Friday, July 31, 2009

In the news

Well, hell, you didn't think Obama was going to bomb some potential terrorist target this early in his administration, did you?
From the AP: Analysis: White House beers a way to change topic

Actually, I will give the President this: If there's anyone in the administration who should know if someone is acting stupidly....

(If you need and example: W.H. makes CEOs pay for lunch.
Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.

But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.

Real class.)


I sure am glad I didn't wait around to get some of my tax money back via the "Cash-for-Clunkers" program.
AP sources: Govt to suspend 'cash for clunkers' "amid concerns it could quickly use up the $1 billion in rebates for new car purchases."
Cash for clunkers program may be running on empty
Excuse me? I thought that was the idea. Stimulation and all that.
The powers that be didn't anticipate the success of the program? I thought the crowd in power knew how people respond when the government actually gives/returns money to people? Of course, it would be even better for the economy if the government never took the G-D damn money from businesses and workers in the first place.


It's raining like hell again. I emptied the rain gauge yesterday before we went wine tasting. It held 0.95 inches for water gathered Wednesday afternoon and over night. It rained hard last night...hard enough that it woke me over sound of the window fan at 3 AM. Looking at the radar we could be getting rain well into this evening. So this July will go out as one of the cooler and wetter Julys on record.

But not if you check the monthly data at I've no idea where they get their data but there records indicate the station received only 1.93 inches of precipitation compared to a July average of 3.30 inches. (The Aerie is above that average value for the month.)

They also sneakily report on one bar the "Highest temperature" (86 degrees) opposite the "Average High" (81 degrees). This gives the impression that the average high for the month was 81 degrees. It was not. The 81 degree figure is the historical average for the month of July. But, of course, there is no indication of how long records were kept to calculate that "historical" average.

Using's observed highs and lows for the first 30 days of July I calculate an average high of just 77.3 degrees and an average low of 54.2 degrees. (The historical average high, as mentioned above, is 81 degrees, the low is 55 degrees.)

Our high temperatures at the Aerie have generally been two to five degrees lower than those reported by This is attributable to our elevation (2100 feet over the valley's altitude of 1400 feet) and daily winds. Our lows are sometimes lower and sometimes higher depending upon the cloud cover and stillness of the early morning air. (Warm air rises and cold air sinks when permitted to. Clouds and fogs can block that movement. Winds tend to mix valley air and hillside air giving the two more equal temperatures. We are not at the tippy-top of the hill but 100-200 feet below the ridge this affords some protection from the temperature extremes.)

In any event, with today's rain it's a god day to curl up with a book, but please, no wine.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wineries galore!

After a hearty breakfast of pancakes topped with fresh picked raspberries, Terry and I bid adieu to the three cats and headed up to Seneca Lake in our new Jeep Compass.

Despite Terry's working on the Clean Lakes program of the USEPA, she hadn't been to either Watkins Glen or Geneva since she was a little girl on a family vacation. We had our Wine Trail Guide Map for Seneca Lake in hand and I pointed out all the vineyards and wineries as we drove north along Rt 14 while she read the descriptions out loud. Once in Geneva, we drove around the streets a bit to admire the old buildings and then ducked over to the northeast corner of Seneca Lake to make our first stop at The Three Brothers' Wineries.

The Three Brothers' wineries off 96A on the northeast side of Seneca Lake includes three distinctive wineries (one for each brother) and a microbrewery that produces some excellent beers--including a yummy root beer. The wineries operate on three different levels, each purported to be indicative of the brother who owns/runs it.

There's the rather ritzy, and straight laced Stony Lonesome up on the hilltop with its merlots, rieslings, cabernets, etc.

Down the hill and on the other side of the parking lot is the somewhat more risque Passion Feet where the wine list includes Seduce Me, 90 Seconds of Heaven, Earn Your Beads, Scandelicious, Hold Your Own, Take Me Home, Barefoot Lovers, Heart Pounding Crush, and Backseat Bounce. (BTW The interior looks nothing like the one at the link. They got rid of the peppermint stripe pink and made things more of a Moulin Rouge. More in style with a place one might go for a clandestine rendezvous.)

Follow the gravel path north out of the parking lot and into the woods, pass the rusted out old truck (or two), skirt the pond and you'll come upon a large wooden shack. You've reached Rogue's Hollow. The wines here included Well Hung, 69 Ways To Have Fun, Stoned and Lonesome, Lonely Seaman, Ride'er All Night, Dog's Head Red. Gaitor Bait, Two Banger, and Skirt Lifter.

(Heh, brother #1 at stony Lonesome must have some issues.)

Then there's the War Horse Brewery: Reisling Ale, American Black Lager, East Coast Amber Ale, Raspberry (!) Wheat Ale, and the Iron Fireman Rootbeer.

For $8 per person you can get a "passport" at the Three Brother's complex that allows you to sample six wines/beers at each of the four stops. We got two passports and we each got to order up half the wine list in each winery--then we shared sips. As a result, we each tasted just about every wine on the lists. Then we bought four different bottles from each. They were that good. Besides, there's a 20% discount for a case of 12 and you can mix and match from the three wineries' selections.

As for the War Horse brewery...Terry doesn't care for beer. Her grandma owned a workman's tavern on the border of Linden and Elizabeth, NJ back when she was gorwing up and she used to go over and help clean on Sunday mornings. The smell of stale beer and more still makes her turn green. I, on the other hand, found all the samples excellent. We came home with a growler (roughly 1/2 gallon) of the East Coast Amber Ale and one of the Iron Fireman Rootbeer.

When we finally got back to the Compass, it was time for some vittles. Man can not live on wine, beer, crackers and peanuts alone! So it was back to the west side of Seneca Lake to the Fox Run Vineyards on Rt 14 in Penn Yan. There we learned we had just missed the Garlic Dinner held earlier this week but that the Garlic Festival (August 1 & 2) was around the corner!

We sampled their gourmet sandwiches and salads (excellent if somewhat higher priced than they need be) and then tried a couple of the wines from the complimentary side of their list. Of the six or so we tasted, We settled for bringing three bottles home.

We made one more stop on our way south on Rt 14 at the Earle Estates Meadery. I picked out three bottles that sounded good. (I stopped sampling by then having had more than enough.) A Traditional Honey Mead that was a prize winner, a Gold Medal Blueberry Bounty wine, and a Pear Mead made their way into the Compass and back to the Aerie.

Technically we stopped at four wineries, a brewery and a meadery. There are dozens more along the shores of Seneca Lake. Then there's Cayuga and Keuka Lakes.... I can see the trick of this wine tasting shtick is to 1) swallow very little and 2) don't buy (or at least don't buy more than one or two bottles at a time).

It's a good thing we have company coming up from South Carolina next week. And that Lorraine like to have a glass or two of wine before bed time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pickles: Check
Weather: Check, we got it
Wine tasting: Planned

Six pints of bread-and-butter pickles in the jar, sealed and ready for storage. No need to use them right now for while the pickles and onions were soaking under ice and salt, Terry went out an picked four more cukes, two zukes and a passel of string beans. That will make another quart of the latter for the freezer.

As for the cukes (there will be more tomorrow) Terry has a refrigerated pickle recipe she wants to try out. We might need more pint jars before that can be attempted, however.


Managed to slip up to 72 degrees today when there was a break in the clouds...for about 15 minutes. The rain, too, slackened off although radar showed it all around us. We must live on a magical mountain or something. Storm clouds frequently break up and veer to either side of us. Still, we should get some more rain over night. I don't expect the temperatures to fall much, either. The system is coming from the southwest which usually means slightly warmer air. They've even changed the temperature forecast for tomorrow. Now the high is supposed to reach 80 degrees under a mostly sunny sky. (Still below the average high for the date and far better than being in the 90s!)

Speak of the devil. Just as I'm getting ready to post, the rains returned.


Time for a day-cation. There's no bird watching planned, so we're going to take the day off tomorrow, something easy to do when you're retired, and go wine tasting. The Finger Lakes of New York are surrounded by vineyards and we're going to sample some. I've had my eye on a few along Rt 14 between Watkins Glen and Geneva on the west side of Seneca Lake. Terry's visited some folks over by Keuka Lake and there are scores of wineries along the shores of Cayuga Lake between Ithaca and Seneca Falls. We'll probably stop at five or six, sample some wines, buy a few bottles and have lunch at one of the wineries that has a cafe or bistro.

Should be fun despite my having absolutely no idea what I'm doing at a wine tasting. I enjoyed our little sojourn into the Napa Valley a few years ago. I may have no nose and faltering taste buds but I do know what I like! Terry, on the other hand could tell you if some one dropped an errant clove in a vat of curry two miles away--against the wind. And if you want to protect your secret recipe? Do NOT let her have a taste! Even if you insist on Vicks Vaporub smeared under her nose she will chemically (or is that herbally?) analyze your dish with 99% certainty, recreate it accurately and then improve upon it! That probably explains why she likes the sweet wines and I like the "pucker your lips" dry wines.

Oh well, there's a hard cider mill up there and a meadry that just beckons every time I drive by. Tomorrow I won't be driving by.

What am I reading?

Well, you might suspect it was one of the Butcher series about modern day wizard Harry Driesden that I mentioned here, but you would be wrong.

I ordered a few other books that day. One was Shorts In A Wad by this guy. It's a collection of short (very short--like 100 words short) stories and if they're as good as some of the postings on his blog, I'm sure they will be great fun to read and ponder. But that's not what I'm reading.

No, the other book I purchased last month was Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer whom I named my Hero du jour in this post. It's all about the missin gscience in the global warming argument. Things like how CO2 does not drive climate change. And how there have been serious ice ages when CO2 has been hundreds of times more abundant in our planet's atmosphere. Or like how records indicate life flourishes when things are warmer than today and do not do so well when things are colder. The same goes for civilizations.

I'm only half way through this book and am thoroughly engrossed.

Here's an article from Jonathan Manthorpe that ran in the Vancouver Sun about Dr. Ian Plimer's book and stance on global warming.

Grass, rain, berries and
bread-and-butter pickles

It only got down to around 67 degrees overnight, partly because the clouds moved in to serve as a blanket. It was completely overcast this morning and threatening to start raining at any moment instead of the late afternoon that was forecast last evening. Sure enough, when I checked the radar on there was a massive rain system located to the southwest down by State College and heading our way. Based on the speed of leading edge of the system I saw there I estimated the rain to start around noon. Time to cut the grass!

Terry went off to Curves (aka The Gossip Center) and to get the mail at 8 AM while I cranked up the mower. An hour and a half later I was just finishing up when she drove back in the driveway.

A quick check of the mail and a cold drink and I was back out with my collecting bucket to gather raspberries and a few lingering blueberries and early blackberries from the hillside. I got about a pint total. Enough for a few days of cereal, pancake or ice cream topping if used sparingly.

While I was out picking berries, Terry started to make some bread-and-butter pickles from the cucumbers we had gathered over the last few days. She had 15 of the cukes on hand, a fact that surprised even her since we had eaten several in a yogurt and dill salad on Monday and Tuesday.

I got back into the house around 11 AM just as the rain picked up. (It had started drizzling a wee bit as I started out to pick around 10 AM.) I seriously think the 80 degree temperature forecast last evening will be a mere dream as the temperature topped out at 71 at 10:30 AM--just as the rains came.

So far, and it's now 2 PM, it's been a gentle, soaking rain that should do the garden and lawn good without washing out the newly raked and packed dirt road on which we live.

Well, the cuke and onion slices have soaked long enough. Time to process them into pint jars and seal the pickles up to age a bit.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aerie Report, Tuesday July 28

Well now. Summer seems to have finally arrived here at the Aerie. And by "summer" I mean warm temperatures. Not WARM warm but sorta warm as in we've finally cracked the average high for the day. Got up to 82 degrees this afternoon and might reach that again tomorrow...if the rain showers hold off. Average for July 28, 29 is 81 degrees.

Oh sure, we've cracked the average a couple of times since the Summer Solstice but certainly not half the time...which you might expect to do with--you know--an "average" temperature. Even when we go above the average temperature it's only by a degree or two. (Average for most of July is 81 or 82 degrees.) Meanwhile, when we fall below the average, it's often by five or even ten degrees. Take the first week in August as an example. The current forecast for August 1, 2, and 3 are forecast to have highs of 80, 81 and 79 degrees respectively. A veritable heat wave! Although the average temperature for those days is 81 degrees. Meanwhile August 4, 5, and 6, which also have average highs of 81 degrees, are supposed to see high temperatures of just 74 degrees.

I'll be cheering on the zucchini squash and tomatoes on those days when we get to--or even just slightly above--the average.


Not much else to report today. Terry went off for a stitching class in Big Flats.

I, on the other hand, ran around purchasing a utility trailer (to haul the ATV), checking that the car insurance company had the Jeep in their good hands, canceling payment on a check that was apparently lost in the mail after I confirmed the credit card company had not received payment despite my mailing the damn check two weeks before due and with four other checks--all of which cleared. Then I went out and cut some tree tops for a little over an hour. (One tank of fuel in the chainsaw.) I should have cut the grass since the forecast currently shows a 60% chance of showers tomorrow, but I was drenched in sweat and too pooped to push the mower about in the sunshine. Manana.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Aerie Report, Monday July 27

A lovely day here at the Aerie with a high temp of 76 or so. Most of the day was cloudless despite forecasts of occasional showers. Perhaps tonight.

We had one of those scattered showers yesterday afternoon. In less than half an hour it dropped 0.3 inches of rain. I know that because I emptied the rain gauge before I left to go to Lowe's up in Horseheads (just northwest of Elmira off I-86). I ran into a similar scattered shower on my way to Elmira, found it hadn't rained just to the northwest of the city, and hit just a tiny bit of rain coming back down on Rt 15 to Mansfield. Got home just after the heavy rain stopped here. Summer thunderstorms in the mountains can be like that. Rain on one side of the mountain but not the other or even on one side of the road and not the other.


We've been picking string beans out of the garden on a daily basis. We'll get enough for a quart of frozen beans every other day if we don't have them for supper. Today we also picked eight cucumbers giving us an even dozen for the last two days. Tomorrow we'll be able to pick four or five more. Then it will be time to make some pickles.

Zucchini are not doing too well. There were three or four that were just over two inches long but had started to turn yellow and rot. There are two or three that look like they might be havestable in a couple of days but so far we've only had one nine inch long zuke. There have been plenty of flowers on the plants but, unless something happens soon, we may not have any zucchini bread in the freezer in September.

In looking over the tomatoes, I spotted lots and lots of fruit but none of it has turned red yet. To encourage that and the growth of the smaller fruit on the plants, I snipped off some of the terminal growth and unset flowers. I'll do more of that in the next day or two.


Finally, I called the loggers to see if they had finished with their work on my property. I thought they had as I didn't spot any marked trees and that was confirmed. Now it's my turn to get out there with the chainsaw and reduce the tops they left to smaller piles of slash and firewood. Some of the tops are quite thick (10" at the cut end) and were only left behind because of the limbs, bends and twists they contain. All of it is ash, oak, maple and hickory. If I can retrieve those pieces that are 4" in diameter or better--and the slope upon which some of the tops rest may make full recovery impossible--I'll have plenty of firewood for the next two winters. At least if Al Gore doesn't come visiting.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Is health care a "Right"?

Why, no, I don't believe it is. And Marko will tell you why:
you keep using that word. i do not think it means what you think it means.

Let’s get the most obvious point out of the way first. You cannot have a right to something that necessitates a financial obligation on someone else’s part.

There's more. Lots more. Go and read Marko's excellent post.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Christmas in July

Today, to celebrate Christmas in July, Terry and I took advantage of the Federal Government's Cash for Clunkers program and Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep's $4500 rebate to turn in our used 2000 Ford Explorer with an R (for reconstructed, making it about as much of a clunker as could be) title for a 2009 Jeep Compass.

2009 Jeep Compass

The Explorer's R title means the vehicle had once been in an accident that had done substantial damage. Other than having had 4-wheel drive, the Explorer had little value. It served its purpose for two winters getting Terry up and down our hill but I was always concerned when she drove any distance. We paid only $3400 for the vehicle and were given $3500 under the "clunker" program plus another $4500 from Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep. A deal was too good to pass. And the peace of mind of having a very sound vehicle is priceless.

Anyway...the Compass has a 5-speed manual transmission and is EPA rated up to 28 mpg on the highway even with the 4-wheel drive. The 2.4L six cylinder puts out 165 horses--enough that Terry complained about how sneaky fast it was on the way home. And it's a nice sandstone tan so any dust from driving the dirt roads around here won't show up too well.

I did the "shopping" which means I looked it up on line, drove down to Williamsport this morning, saw the vehicle I was interested in was still available, took a short test drive around the block, and started the paperwork process. Elapsed time at the dealership was approximately 15-20 minutes. Then it was a matter of waiting for Terry to come down with the Explorer.

My little test drive proved quite comfortable. I'm sure I'll be driving the Compass more than I did the Explorer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thoughts from the Aerie, 7/23/09

Terry went out to one of her EGA (Embroiders' Guild of America) picnics yesterday. This one was up in NY state on one of the western Finger Lakes. She says there were half a dozen women there all working on the same project so they got to help each other over some of the more difficult parts.

While she was away, I had the weed wacker out and cleared more of the goldenrod and other weeds from under the power line . We had a note from the Co-Op that they had contracted out the job of spraying the power line and I just want to clear enough of the weeds away from the gardens so as to make it clear where they should and shouldn't spray. It's still going to cost me some lovely blackberries if they come to spray before I can harvest.


The weather the last few days is a lot closer to "normal" than it has been. We've had highs in the afternoon close to the 80 degree mark and lows over night around 60 degrees. Rain, however has been somewhat elusive. We have had showers in the forecast for much of the week but it wasn't until late last night that they actually materialized...briefly.

Earlier in the week, the wind was blowing from the WSW and the line of storms looked like they should sweep over us and bring the forecast rain. Then, about 20 miles west of here, the line first broke apart and then disappeared completely. Yesterday morning a strong line of thunderstorms lay to our west over the Allegheny running from north to south. It stayed there much of the day and we even saw lightening out that way after sundown. Another system blanketed the entire eastern seaboard from Maryland to Connecticut. If you were east of I-81 you were getting wet. Of course, the wind was blowing from the south and we were between the two systems. Not one drop fell here at the Aerie. At least not until around 2 AM this morning.

Which figured since we had a date to go birding this morning.


Deb K. had promised her four granddaughters a birding outing last Easter. She let it slide through May and June when it would have been good birding. (The girls were busy at school.) So, today was the day. They would join Terry and I and the other members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society at Ive's Run on Hammonton Lake to see what we could see. Late July and early August are usually very slow times for birders. And, with the number of species losing their breeding plumage and/or having lots of immature birds about, identification can be a challenge.

Still, we did pretty well:
Location: Ive's Run-Crooked Creek
Observation date: 7/23/09
Notes: Overcast morning after a late night rain. Little wind and the temperature in the mid to upper 60s.
Number of species: 24

Wood Duck X
Mallard X
Great Blue Heron X
Turkey Vulture X
Osprey X
Killdeer X
Mourning Dove X
Eastern Kingbird X
Red-eyed Vireo X
Tree Swallow X
Bank Swallow X
Cliff Swallow X
Barn Swallow X
Eastern Bluebird X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Common Yellowthroat X
Chipping Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
Swamp Sparrow X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
House Finch X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(


The string beans continue producing like crazy. At least a quart a day. The raspberries along the power line are producing enough fruit for morning breakfast or a topping for some vanilla ice cream. The onions are about ready to be harvested and some of them are the size of softballs! We're getting one or two cucumbers every other day. No zuchinni...yet. I'll be pinching the tomato plants tomorrow to force them to ripen rather than produce more fruit. (The goal is to harvest tomatoes before October 1. Anything after that will be a bonus.)


Did I mention that Terry has another EGA picnic tomorrow (Friday)? Between the EGA meetings and being the national president of SAGA (Smocking Arts Guild of America) (and dealing with their national convention in September), she's been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger.

Then there's the cousin and aunt coming up from Carolina in early August, the trip to Carolina with her Mom in late August, two weddings in NJ in September and October, the SAGA Convention in September, the EGA convention in October... Let's just say Terry's social calendar is pretty packed.

Why doesn't she join me at the Bolt Hole? See the above two paragraphs and add three cats that really, really hate to travel and you'd have some idea. When she's on the road, I babysit the cats. When I'm at the Bolt Hole, she does the same. (While still being able to get to Curves and which ever EGA club is sittin' and stichin' that day.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Calm thoughts at the Aerie

Terry and I went and picked another six quarts of blueberries this the fog. We got there at 8:10 AM and the beautiful view I posted yesterday was completely obscured. We could barely see from one end of the berry patch to the other.

Didn't matter. We only had to concentrate on the bush directly in front of us. And they were loaded. There's no picking on Sunday so there's lots of time for berries to ripen between Saturday and Monday morning. In under an hour we had filled our buckets and Terry was on her way to her sit-n-stitch and I was paying out $14.38 for the six quarts of blueberries. All of which has gone into the freezer making some 15-18 quarts in there now.


The fog did burn off in that hour we were in the berry field but it didn't really matter. Clouds thickened up and obscured the sun nearly all day. The temperature ranged from a low of 54 degrees at around 5 AM and 74 degrees at 5 PM. Although it threatened, it never rained.


Terry packed up another quart and a half of string beans this evening. We also picked two cucumbers. From looking at the tomato plants it would appear that some of the volunteer plants, those that are growing from the seeds of last falls romas that I made sauce out of, are starting to set fruit. There are tons and tons of flowers as well as little green tomatoes on the vines/bushes but nothing is turning red yet. I'm going to let them alone until the first of August and then pinch flowers off and force the plants to put energy into the fruits already on the vine.


I'll be outside tomorrow cutting grass...again. I knew I shouldn't have spread that fertilizer last spring, dammit! The clover is my indicator. The seed mix Don put down contained some white clover which is supposed to help rebuild the soil after it's been all torn up like we did. There was no top soil of the rich dark brown variety put down, just clay, sand and stone. The white clover adds nitrogen to this pitiful soil and helps everything else grow. And it attracts bees to its nice white flower. When It grows too tall and those flowers appear all over the yard I know it's time to crank up the mower and start cutting. Takes about two weeks. I could cut every week, but that would be against the Maynard G. Grebs rule of landscaping that states one should avoid doing too much work on the landscape and merely look at it. That's why it's there.

Come to think of it, I must have violated that rule way to much already with the raised beds made from timber and stone at the Aerie and the apple orchard rehab program at the Bolt Hole.


Trying to keep from commenting on the countries political and economical situation for the time being. Things I read about are just making me angry as hell. So, for now, I'll just take a deep breath, concentrate on cutting grass, weeding the garden, and doing a little bird watching.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Might go berry pickin' in the mornin'

Terry and I may well go picking more blueberries in the morning. It will have to be early, however, as she has an EGA group meeting at 10 AM in Big Flats, NY.

If we do go, we can expect to fill our buckets in about an hour so she can get on her way to her hen party...I mean sit and stitch.

Here's a picture I took of Murphy's Blueberry Farm two weeks ago n our first picking expedition of the season. They quite rightly brag about their "million dollar view."

View from Murphy's Blueberry Farm
Looking just a shade east of south

View from Murphy's Blueberry Farm
Looking almost due south

Back at the Aerie, July 19, 2009

Packed up the Tundra this morning and headed on back to the Aerie. I've been taking the NYS Thruway west to Rt 14 (about MP 343) and then Route 14 south through Geneva to Watkins Glen and finally to Route 17 (aka I-86). Normally it's a nice leisurely ride along the west shore of Seneca Lake. And, for the most part, so it was this lovely Sunday morning.


Geneva was hosting the Musselman Triathelon today and the running portion of the competition crossed Route 14 in the neighborhood of Williams and Hobart College...twice. Crossing guards were in place to stop the traffic and allow the runners to cross the road without breaking stride. I've no problem with that. All of the folks running looked to be in agony anyway.

Then there were the wine tasters making the tour of the numerous wineries along the stretch from Geneva to Watkins Glen. Tour buses would come to a dead stop at the railroad crossings despite the lights not flashing at the gates. Must be a rule I'm unaware of. And then there was the driver who was pulling out of one winery (possibly after partaking in a few). I could see him sitting at the end of the driveway on the east side of the road from over a quarter mile away. No one on the road but me and a couple of cars behind me heading south. He sits, and sits and sits some more and then pulls out less than 100 feet in front of me to head south at a speed that forced me to apply my breaks or climb up his tailpipe. A quarter mile later I got the opportunity to pass him and did. Just before he pulled into another winery on the west side of the road.

Finally got to Watkins Glen about 1 PM to discover it was crawling with people and vehicles. They were hosting their town-wide Wine Festival. *sigh*

I should have stopped at one of the wineries to "sample" a few.


Still, I made it home in pretty good time and in one piece.

Terry took me around the gardens to show me what's ripening and what's been 'et. (Something has nipped off the tops of the tallest marigolds...just as they were about to flower, yet left the beans, cukes and tomatoes alone. No sign of any deer tracks.) There were enough string beans for her to serve up a batch with dinner tonight and blanch and freeze two scant quart bags as well.

Lots of tomatoes on the bushes but nothing showing any red yet. Some cucumbers (Straight 8 and gerkin variety) are growing nicely. Lots of little zucchini, too, although the plants' leaves are awfully pale. I get the feeling that if we have a week or so of 80 degree weather we could see things busting out all over.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bolt Hole Morning: July 18, 2009

A raw, chilly day here at the Bolt Hole. The rains moved in around 2 PM yesterday and it has been falling off and on since then. Current conditions are very overcast skies with a temperature of just 64 degrees at 9 AM. Feels much colder, however.


I spent seven hours yesterday lopping up several honeysuckle bushes to the east of the yard and hauling the debris off to the dump site in the woods nearby. Then took the Tundra over to the garage where I used a tow rope and chain to pull the root systems of the honeysuckle I had cut over there. I even pulled out a couple of honeysuckle bushes I hadn't cut down and hauled that debris away. The roots are still stacked there as they contained lots of soil and I would like to keep that where it belongs. The rain, eventual sunshine and gravity should shake it loose.

I found the soil so loose from the extensive root systems that were in pulled out that is wasn't difficult to dig and rake a shallow trench off to the west that should help drain snow melt away from the front of the garage next spring. There's still more grading to do but that will have to wait. It's much too wet to go mucking about in the mud.

I keep forgetting how different the soil conditions are around the Bolt Hole clearing as compared to those at the Aerie. At the Aerie nothing short of dynamite and a six-foot steel bar would have let me dig an 10-12 inch deep 12-foot long trench. Even then it would have taken a whole lot longer than a half hour!


I'll spend the afternoon house cleaning before getting ready to head back to the Aerie on Sunday.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bolt Hole Morning: July 17, 2009

I got woken up by a DUCK today. Well, a duck and lots of little red squirrels. First understand that the Bolt Hole is not near any water except for two creeks about a quarter mile away and lots of puddles of standing water in the woods. Yet, the distinct "QUACK" of a duck, probably a mallard, was heard from my bedroom window. By the time my head registered what my ears had heard, however, it was gone.

As to the red squirrels, there are four or five of the little buggers chittering at each other (and probably the duck) each day. They're small but noisy little guys. Probably from this year's litter. Earlier in the year I couldn't even find one when I went looking, now they're everywhere. And with fewer pine trees around the cabin to hang out in, they are more contentious. At least they haven't invaded the cabin...yet.


Got a note from my wife's cousin and my fishin' and huntin' buddy, Joe, about his daughter's Appalachian Trail trek:
It's not going to happen this year. The trail was so muddy and washed out they came home last week. They made it to the top of Mt.. mooselock,or something like that, and decided it wasn't fun any more. She'll attempt the whites and Maine next year.

So the cool and very wet New England summer has claimed another casualty. Jenn is getting married this fall and hoped to have completed the trail before the nuptials. She hiked the southern portion of the trail, with her mom teaming up with her much of the way, last summer. Her dad was going to join her for the grand finale of Katahdin in Maine.


A comfortable 58 degrees at 6:30 AM today. Partly cloudy with a chance of showers this morning according to the weather quacks. Might get up to 75 if the sun appears more frequently.


Finishing my second mug of coffee as I listen to red squirrels and wait for the grass to dry a bit. Then it's time to grub out some more honeysuckle from the edge of the yard. Later.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bolt Hole Report: July 16, 2009

Looks like my farming friend Threecollie was a tad more accurate than the weather wonks in her predictions. After viewing Wednesday evening's Mackerel Sky she said: "Not long wet....not long dry." See here where she's got a lovely photo of that Mackerel Sky.

The Bolt Hole experienced a brief shower at 3 AM, and more at 6:30 AM, 10:30 AM and finally a couple of quick T-storms that passed north and south of here between 3 PM and 5 PM. "Not long wet....not long dry." Indeed!

It was much warmer this morning when I did get out of bed. At 6 AM it was already 58-60 degrees. When the sun was out (between showers) it got up to around 75 degrees. Nice but still below the average high. And, being as the weather has been so cool to date, the damn black flies are still around while the dragonflies aren't.

I checked the garage after the morning rains and found no interior drips. Since the early showers were light, I really didn't expect to find any. But the afternoon T-storms, while not passing directly overhead, came pretty heavy and close. Still no leaks. While that may bode well for rain storms, I'm sure when the snow arrives in November and a layer of heavy wet snow and ice accumulated on the roof some nails are going to pop and there will be some leakage. Only thing that prevent that is a new roof. But first I'll have to work on the west wall and the underpinnings of the northeast corner and.....


I spent time between rain showers clearing out some more invasive honeysuckle shrubs. I cut out three from just southwest of the garage in an attempt to check the slope of the land so we can divert rain and melt water from going into the garage. Without a dozer or at least a skid steer that will be a challenge. All I've got is a long handled shovel. Trying to rent a skid steer, like I did when I built the barn, is now next to impossible in NYS unless you're a contractor with a hefty insurance policy. *sigh* and the cost of having someone come in to do little more than half a days job is far more costly than the rental would be...if I could get one.

After lunch I moved over to the east side of the yard to clear some huge honeysuckle shrubs from around an old foundation only to discover there was a substantial apple tree in their midst. Over 6 inches DBH (diameter at breast height) it's easily 30 feet tall and--aside from row upon row of sapsucker holes drilled into the trunk--looks very healthy. I'll be back over there tomorrow to clear out more of the honeysuckle.


One thing I've noticed as I work around the yard is that there are no Monarch Butterflies to be seen. There are plenty of Yellow Swallowtails and orange and black friteraries. (Excuse the spelling.) There's plenty of healthy milkweed upon which the Monarch normally lays its eggs and upon which the caterpillars feed but there are no caterpillars or adult Monarchs. Perhaps the cold weather up north has caused them to stay further south than usual.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A beautiful day at the Bolt Hole

Temperatures warmed up nicely to around 75 degrees this afternoon. That's still below the average high for this date but I'll take it.

The warm temperature, strong sunshine and light breezes made for a hot time on the tin roof of the garage. I fashioned a patch in one area where the previous owner had done a half-assed job and I'm hoping my full sheet of metal will stop the worst of the leaks. The previous patch was made from three 18" long pieces that were shingled atop a full sheet but did not reach all the way to the peak. That let lots of water and other debris plenty of room to get underneath. If the weather quacks are correct, I may find out if my patch works tonight and tomorrow.

I also pulled a few dozen loose nails--many with lead washers--from the front half of the garage roof and replaced them with newer rubber-washered ring-shanked nails and then added a dollop of roofing tar over any cracks I came across.

It was hot on that roof. Like working on a reflector oven with the sun bouncing back at me from the silvery metal.

Oh, and I found out where the snakes were hiding. I had a pile of metal roofing set off to one side of the yard from a shed I tore down and replaced. I used one of them for the patch and had to shift through the rest to select the best; i.e. the one with the fewest holes. The ten or twelve sheets housed four garter snakes and a nest of large red and black ants. Only one of the snakes had any size to it. Three were barely a foot long and not much thicker than a fountain pen. The fourth was closer to two feet in length and about an inch or inch and a quarter in diameter. I shook them out and sent them slithering into the brush nearby.

Clouds moved in at sunset so maybe the forecast of rain tonight and tomorrow is accurate.

Late fruit

I didn't mention it but the berries (blue berries and raspberries) around the Bolt Hole have yet to ripen. They are unusually late this year probably due to the cold conditions. That's driven some critters (like bears) to seek alternate food supplies. I had two old bird houses on a post in front of the barn. Operative word there is "had". They were busted open the other night by some thing looking to feast on the young birds inside. Two well formed nests were exposed and the chicks or eggs eaten.

Another note: A big old apple tree on the neighbor's corner has been dropping small green apples to the ground. Either the wind or the cold caused that. The deer have taken advantage of the bounty. There was a big doe feeding on those little green apples yesterday morning when I walked up to check the condition of his cabin.

Still chilly

I'm sitting here at the Bolt Hole with my fingers wrapped around my coffee cup to keep them warm. I'd start a fire in the wood stove but it'll be getting up to the 70s today if the weather quacks are correct and I'd rather not have it too warm inside.

Yesterday, when I was cutting the lawn, I did manage to break a sweat but that was with a medium weight long sleeve shirt and lots of walking under the sometimes bright sun. I say "sometimes" because the clouds that blew in from the west-northwest predominated and even threatened rain. But the threat never materialized and the clouds along with the strong breeze that blew much of the day disappeared around 9 PM.

(Terry said they missed the record low in Elmira by just 2 degrees. Binghamton and Rochester and other points were not so lucky. They set record lows for the 14th of July.)

No overnight cloud cover and no overnight wind meant that any heat that might have built up during the day (and there was precious little of that as the high was only around 65 degrees) was free to escape out to space. And it did. The corrected thermometers this morning still read 45 degrees or so at 7 AM. The underground weather station about 5 miles from here as the crow flies recorded a low of 43 degrees at 6 AM. (I really have to get a more accurate max-min digital!)

The wind picked up yesterday around 10 in the morning and finally dried out the lawn (heavy, heavy dew) so I was able to get the grass all cut using one of Mark's mowers. No snakes or toads were seen which is unusual for a July day. There's usually a few of each in the grass hunting grasshoppers or crickets. Then again, there weren't many of insects in the grass either.

I'll be spending the better part of the day up on the garage roof with some ring-shanked nails that have washers on them and a bucket of roofing tar. Pull out some of the old nails that have worked loose, put a dollop of tar on the hole and then a new and improved (I hope) nail goes in to hold the metal in place. Sounds easy but time consuming. With any luck, there won't be any bugs and the roof will be a warm place to work.


My mind keeps wandering to my wife's cousin's daughter who is hiking the Appalachian trail. She started last summer making it as far north as the Berkshires. She picked it up again this June and is poised to begin the Presidential Range in the White Mountains any day now if she hasn't done so already. The last report on the SPOT Shared page (which was on July 10) shows her to be just shy of Franconia Notch but she's backtracked along the trail for some reason.

Current conditions on the summit of Mt. Washington?

At 8:15 AM on Wednesday morning they report a temperature of 35.7 degrees with winds of 53.9 mph (gusts to 59.8 mph) for a wind chill of 19.2 degrees F.

Translation: Freakin' Cold! But that's somewhat normal for Mt. Washington.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Freakin' Lawn Mower!

remember how I sort of bragged about the lawn mower with its Briggs & Stratton engine starting on the first pull after sitting in the shed all winter? Forget it.

Three weeks ago it started on the first pull again but died after five minutes. It took me nearly an hour of pulling the carburetor apart, draining the fuel and all sorts of stuff before it finally turned over again. But then it ran like a charm for two days.

Today? Not so much. Again it started on the first pull--and died after 3-4 minutes. But this time I could not get it to turn over again despite my best efforts. I ended up borrowing one of Mark's old clunkers and cut the grass using it instead of the Craftsman mower that's just two years old.

So this afternoon I put the Craftsman in the back of the Tundra and hauled it down to a place on the south side of Utica and dropped it off for repairs and maintenance. With luck it will be finished in three weeks which is just about when the lawn will need cutting again.

Meanwhile, the old lawn mower--almost 20 years old, the one with a slight bend int he shaft and held together with baling wire, a couple of oak stair rails, and with an old license plate bolted on the rotting deck still runs. It's a bear to push around because of the wobbly wheels, but it still runs. Go figure.

35 43?! On July 14th!

A mere 35 degrees on one of my two bi-metal analog thermometers at the Bolt Hole this morning at 6:45 AM. (The other read 39 but is just outside the sliding glass door to the bedroom that was cracked open a couple of inches so may have been warmed by my body heat.) Awfully cold for a July 14th. Not a breath of air outside either after yesterday's strong breeze. A weather underground station on a farm several miles to the west recorded a low of 43 degrees at 6:30 AM but it's also about 300 feet lower in elevation and the station picked up the sunlight just prior to that reading.


Might have to jog along as I push the mower today just to warm up.

UPDATE: I had to run some errands in the Tundra this afternoon (more about those in the next post) and it has a digital thermometer that is pretty accurate. I checked it against the bi-metal thermometers attached to the cabin and found they were 8 degrees lower. I've since fixed them but that means the low temperature this morning was closer to 43 degrees than 35. My bad! Still, that's bloody chilly for the 14th of July.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday evening at the Bolt Hole, July 13, 2009

Terry and I went berry picking again this morning. Murphy's Blue Berry Farm is open 8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Saturday. The late afternoon rains caused them to shut down early on Saturday (around 4 PM) and with no picking on Sunday, the bushes were loaded with deep blue, ripe berries this morning. We go there around 8:30 and there were already two dozen folks spread out along the rows of bushes. Most were there to earn a few extra bucks at 75 cents a pound. They were teenage girls and some seniors. Others were trying to fill the freezer like Terry and I.

We each filled a paint bucket in a little over an hour and a quarter and left before the sun got too warm. We only picked berries from five or six bushes to fill our buckets. When we weight out we had over nine pounds of berries in total. Mrs. Murphy said we could have earned a little over $7 for our effort. We paid her the $14 ($1.50 a pound) we owed and went on our way. When we packaged them for the freezer we had seven quarts. Six went into the deep freeze and one went into the fridge for more immediate consumption.

We'll probably go back one more time to assure plenty for the winter.


After an early lunch and another cup of coffee, I packed up the Tundra and head for the Bolt Hole in the Adirondacks 220 miles northeast of the Aerie. I do like to drive! And, with its lumbar support, the driver's seat in the truck is very, very kind to my back. Of course when I finally get out of the truck my legs are a bit wobbly....


It was 57 degrees when we went out berry picking this morning and Terry says it got up to all of 73-74 degrees this afternoon. The temperatures are a bit cooler here at the Bolt Hole and I expect it might get down into the 40s tonight. The weather quacks are predicting a high of only 72 or so on Tuesday and maybe 78-80 on Wednesday. The average high for this date is around 82. As might be expected when things are coming out of the north there's only a slight chance of rain late Wednesday and into Thursday. That's when the winds will shift to the southwest. Should be no problem getting all the grass cut Tuesday if I don't run out of gasoline.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Current reading list

Terry presented me with four books for Fathers' Day. Two were westerns by Robert B. Parker (Appaloosa and Resolution) and two were books one and two in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher (Storm Front and Fool Moon).

I read both of the Butcher books two days ago and found them to be real page turners. My initial plan was to keep them by the bedside and read a couple of chapters each night before going to sleep. That plan lasted but one night. I brought Storm Front down stairs the next morning and finished it that afternoon. Immediately I picked up Fool Moon and finished that the next day.

Today I ordered books 3-10 in the series from Amazon. It will be a week or so before they arrive.

Meanwhile I picked up Parker's Resolution (not realizing it was not the first in the series) and started reading. I was familiar with Parker's work in the mystery genre from his Spencer series and knew I would find his characters engaging and that they are. Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole are men--or should I say "gunmen"--of complexity and honor. They may buck the system from time to time (or at least Hitch does, Cole is more "by-the-book") but they live by the Code, if you know what I mean.

The "series" with Cole and Hitch is a short one with only three novels listed to date. (The third book, Brimstone, is listed for release in 2009 and I'm sure it is not yet available in paperback.) Here's hoping that Mr. Parker finds these gentlemen as engaging as I do and see fit to share many more of their adventures with the public.

So there you have it. Terry fed me four books in two series and like a drug addict I am hooked. This is going to end up costing me a bundle. Authors who write series, be they fantasy like Terry Prachett's Discworld, historical mysteries like Lindsey Davis' Marcus Didius Falco, or some silly fluff like Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures (alas there will be no more of these) that get under my skin have at least one sure sale. (And, believe me, this is NOT a complete list of serial authors on my shelves!)

And, yes, I tend to buy rather than borrow. The public library just doesn't have the same intense need that I do. Nor do they seem able to maintain the entire series on their shelves. Although, the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell
was pretty well intact. And they had all three books of Cornwell's The Grail Quest and the first three books of The Saxon Stories.

BTW Terry is in the other room reading an Andre Norton book (Year of the Rat) a sequel to a story she really enjoyed. She could have bought it used for around $60 but, instead, asked a friend in NJ to check it out of the library and send it here. As soon as she finishes, she'll send it back. I wasn't aware that Terry had any more of Ms. Norton's books to read.

Aerie Report, Sunday evening 7/12/09

Gorgeous day here at the Aerie today. Late yesterday afternoon we had a cold front move through with some severe T-storms and heavy rains. One moved from west to east just north of here across the NY state line and produced penny sized hail. We just got some strong winds and one torrential down pour that yielded 0.83 inches of rain in about 40 minutes.

This morning we had a low temperature of 53 degrees but that quickly went up to 68 degrees this afternoon after the sun got over the hill.

That's cool for a July 12th but it sure beats the cold that hit Key West yesterday! The weather station at the International Airport reported -11 degrees. As Watts Up With That asks: Will they keep that false reading in the NOAA books just like they kept the false "record highs" from Hawaii earlier this summer?


I didn't go blue berry picking last Friday because the eel work at the labs took longer than I expected, the lawn needed cutting and the forecast was for rain on Saturday. (It did finally arrive very late in the day.) Terry and I will be heading over to the blue berry farm early tomorrow morning to see about getting two gallons of berries for the freezer.


I spent a couple of hours this afternoon cutting some long, straight posts and poles to support a chicken wire fence across the front of the garden I built into the side of the hill. That's where the tomatoes, cucumbers and most of the beans are planted. I caught a small bunny in there last Thursday and want to make it a little harder for it to eat my beans. I'm told that nothing will eat the tomato plants being as how they are related to belladonna which is, of course, poisonous. I've planted some marigolds along the edge as well. Still, two-foot high chicken wire may make it more difficult for a bunny to steal sting beans. It might also do a little something to deter raccoons and even deer. If they can find some other food source nearby. (Who am I kidding? This little fence will do nothing to keep the coons and deer out. And if a bear wants in/ It's all over.)


Speaking of lawn care.... It's time to head up to the Bolt Hole to cut some grass--again. I'll be hitting the road right after lunch tomorrow (Monday) with plans to do just that. Tuesday and Wednesday are supposed to be lovely days up there so I'll spend time walking behind the old Craftsman lawn mower getting some exercise in.

Maybe I'll get some roof tar and see if I can stop the garage roof from leaking so much if I get the time. Mark's got a bucket of barbed nails with rubber washers some place as well as a half tub of tar.


The Mets won two in a row? Holy Cow! As Rizzuto would have said.

My Hero du jour

Professor Ian Plimer

He's an Aussie geologist and he believes anthropogenic global warming to be (according to James Delingpole, author of Meet the man who has exposed the great climate change con trick) "a dangerous, ruinously expensive fiction, a ‘first-world luxury’ with no basis in scientific fact."

Professor Plimer says:
‘I’m a natural scientist. I’m out there every day, buried up to my neck in sh**, collecting raw data. And that’s why I’m so sceptical[sic] of these models, which have nothing to do with science or empiricism but are about torturing the data till it finally confesses. None of them predicted this current period we’re in of global cooling. There is no problem with global warming. It stopped in 1998. The last two years of global cooling have erased nearly 30 years of temperature increase.’

Computer models are subject to the old GIGO law: Garbage In Garbage Out. Not only do they fail to predict the future, they don't even predict the past.

The article describes, in part, the progress or lack thereof of the Australian version of Cap-and-Trade and how its likely failure to pass the upper house may well spell the dissolution of the Rudd government.

It is also a promo for Professor Plimer's book: Heaven and Earth
Reading Plimer’s Heaven And Earth is at once an enlightening and terrifying experience. Enlightening because, after 500 pages of heavily annotated prose (the fruit of five years’ research), you are left in no doubt that man’s contribution to the thing they now call ‘climate change’ was, is and probably always will be negligible. Terrifying, because you cannot but be appalled by how much money has been wasted, how much unnecessary regulation drafted because of a ‘problem’ that doesn’t actually exist. (South Park, as so often, was probably the first to point this out in a memorable episode where Al Gore turns up to warn the school kids about a terrible beast, looking a bit like the Gruffalo, known as ManBearPig.)

Go read the entire article and then see about getting Prof. Pilmer's book.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adieu, adieu.

Before heading out to the labs on Friday morning, I checked the robins' nest on the corner of the Aerie. Sure enough, the last two young had left home either late Thursday or very early Friday. I gathered up the nest and placed it in a plastic bag for the garbage. If a third brood is to be raised, a new nest (the third this year) will have to be built. So far eight baby robins have left that corner of the Aerie this summer. With luck they haven't fallen prey to the four cats that wander around my yard. (Not my cats. I don't see any collars but I can't bring myself to do more than throw a stone or two at them.)

Eel Report

It was a good time at the USGS Northern Appalachian Experimental Labs in Asaph yesterday. Two lab employees (Vinca and Jeff) who are directing the transplant/research of the eels-mussel project were on hand to direct/assist as members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society (TAS)--and a couple of guests from California--implanted computerized tags (PIT tags) beneath the skin of fifty young eels. Each eel's weight and length were measured (my job) and recorded along with their PIT tag numbers.

Gary and I thought we might have only three folks there to assist Vinca and Jeff. We ended up with eight (five TAS members, two California guests of members, and a high school senior (James) working in the labs for the summer). Add Vinca and Jeff and we had a heck of a crew to gang up on the poor eels.

The eels had been collected from the Susquehanna River down in Maryland below the dams that currently make their migration upstream next to impossible. Each measured between 18 and 29 cm in length and had a weight of approximately 1 gram for each cm. They were being held in the labs vast array of holding tanks. Gary would scoop a couple of eels from the holding tank and place them in a cooler of water containing an anesthetic solution. One of the California guests (Mike?) would monitor the eels and when they seemed docile enough he would pluck on from the water and try to get a firm grip on it. Jeff would take a special needle designed to puncture the skin and, with a plunger-like inner structure, implant a PIT tag beneath the eel's skin. A scanner would record the number of the PIT tag (James' job) which the recorder (Diane of TAS). Once the tag was in place I would place the eel on the scale and take its weight and then try to stretch it out straight to get its length before placing it in a recovery tank. We processed 52 eels in all with two of the little devils getting pricked by the needle but having their muscles spit the PIT tag back out.

The entire procedure took us close to two hours. Things might have gone faster but we kept bumping into one another in the small confines of the aisle/doorway in which we worked. I left Phil (TAS President) to assist his daughter (Vinca) in transporting a separate batch of eels to Pine Creek fro release.


I mentioned yesterday that the eels serve as a symbiotic host to the larvae of mussels living in the creek/river. There were some mussels recently collected from the Susquehanna down in southern PA in a large aquarium that had everyone pretty excited. The tank, approximately 2' x 5' had a dozen or so mussels scattered evenly across its graveled bottom on Wednesday. By yesterday, most of the mussels had moved to an area about 18" square nearer the inflow from the filter where O2 levels were higher. As interesting as the migration of adult mussels might be, even more exciting was the display of fish lures by five or six of the larger female mussels.

The mussels were wedged into the gravel so their open edges would stick up high into the water. From those edges protruded soft tissues that looked for all the world like small, one-inch long, minnows with fins waving in the current. Each little "fish" even had what appeared to be a dark eye-spot to complete the illusion. The idea, apparently, is to lure a larger fish (or eel) into range of the mussel, the larvae of which will hitch a ride in the gills of the more mobile creature. The mimicry of a small fish was excellent and, if you didn't have the entire mussel visible to you, you could easily be fooled into thinking it was indeed a fish. They sort of reminded me of the long fins and tail of some koi or a Siamese fighting fish.


Future tagging and release of eels into Pine Creek is planned. And, as soon as Vinca and Jeff choose an antenna/sensor design they want to work with, we'll be on the creek attempting to locate the eels that have been tagged and released.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Eeling (sort of) for clean water

Friday I'm going over to the fish labs at Asaph on Route 6 to assist in a project partially funded by the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. It involves transplanting ells from down south into Pine Creek. The eels serve as hosts to the young of a p[articular mussel living in Pine Creek. That mussel's population is diminishing because the eels can't get upstream after they've been out in the Atlantic due to dam constructions barring their path. By physically transporting eels from below the dams to stretches of Pine Creek near known mussel beds, it's hoped that the mussel larvae will be able to 1) survive 2) hitch a ride to a new location where they can begin new mussel beds.

The reason for all this manipulation?

From the Tiadaghton Audubon Society web site:
Mussels (Elliptio complanata) are very effective, natural water filters, and one mussel can filter a gallon of water in an hour. Needless to say, the health of the ecosystem of an entire watershed could very well depend on a large and healthy population of these mussels. In our case, a clean Susquehanna watershed would lead to the proliferation of numerous macro invertebrates, which in turn would lead to an increase in the number of animals feeding off of this source of food, including native fish and various species of birds -- the Louisiana Waterthrush, for example.

Beside transporting eels from the fish labs to Pine Creek, the Tiadaghton Audubon Society has obtained a grant that will pay for tiny electronic devices that will be implanted in some of the eels to monitor their movements. Members of Tiadaghton Audubon Society will also man the sensors for some of the monitoring process.

Handling eels is not one of my favorite things. Slimy buggers, but if it improves the water quality of Pine Creek--an good trout water--then I say let me at 'em!

Thursday Thoughts, 7/9/09

Terry and I went blueberry picking Wednesday morning. We only spent an hour and brought home nearly four quarts of blueberries. I put them all in the freezer.

WallyWorld is selling blueberries at $2 per pint so we picked about $15 worth of berries and paid only $7.50. Not too shabby.

I plan on going back either Friday or Monday.


It never got much above 62 degrees on Wednesday as the sky was heavily overcast much of the day. Thursday was a little better. It started out around 50 degrees with lots of dense fog in the usual low-lying places but the sun eventually burned that off and the temperature at the Aerie reached 78 late in the afternoon.


Terry and I met Gary over at Darling Run on Pine Creek and we did a bit of birding this morning. At first it looked like it might be a challenge since there was a pretty good layer of fog in the creek valley, but one of the first birds we spotted was a mature Bald Eagle across the creek. Later, a mature Bald Eagle would be seen in the same area feeding two fledged young.

Mature Bald Eagle at Darling Run

Newly fledged Bald Eagle at Darling Run

We also spotted a female Common Merganser leading her horde of eleven young down the far side of the creek. I must say the baby mergs are great entertainment and very beautiful little things. Wearing mottled brown and white fluffy coats they are much prettier than the usual dull yellow and gray of ducklings and gosslings.

Female Common Merganser and her brood.

As we were taking pictures of young eagles and mergansers, a pair of does, a fawn still in spots and a young buck entered the creek about 75 yards away. They came into the creek through the high grasses around a stream mouth, waded north a short way and then returned the same way. As soon as they stepped away from the waters of Pine Creek, they disappeared from view.

A short time later, Terry and I left the creek and headed back to the truck. Stepping into the rails-to-trails bike path, I looked north and saw seven more deer: six does and one spotted fawn. They were in the section of the trail we had walked just minutes before. (Sorry. No deer pics as they were either too far away or two fast for me.)

We ended up tallying 21 species. Here's the list:
Location: Pine Creek/Darling Run
Observation date: 7/9/09
Notes: Cool, foggy morning with the temperature just 60 degrees when we started from Darling Run walking north along the rails-to-trails bike path. We stopped at the Rt 6 overpass and walked back to the parking area.

Number of species: 21

Canada Goose X
Common Merganser X
Great Blue Heron X
Green Heron X
Bald Eagle X
Mourning Dove X
Belted Kingfisher X
Eastern Phoebe X
Red-eyed Vireo X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Tree Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
Veery X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Cedar Waxwing X
Common Yellowthroat X
Song Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Common Grackle X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Song Sparrow on Pine Creek


Returning from our bird walk, I decided to check on the second clutch of American Robins that have been raised on the corner of the Aerie. I found that two of the four young have already moved on. Another seemed about to do the same.

Juvenile American Robin about to hit the air waves.

This is the second nest constructed in the same spot. I removed the first after the four young had left. This one, too, will be removed once the last baby robin hits the road. Since Dad (or Mom) has a penchant for the plastic strips from a rotted tarp that once covered the wood pile, he (or she) has served as a clean-up crew in collecting the strands that I missed. Consider it rent.

Meanwhile, on the opposite corner of the Aerie, the Phoebe clan has apparently left us. Not only is the nest empty, but the birds haven't been seen for two or three days. And what a mess they left behind on the rocks below the nest! Oh, well.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Random thoughts

Is Michael Jackson buried yet? Is the Michael Jackson Death Spectacular over? If so what is the next Big Thing for the tabloid cable news stations to harp on 24/7 while excluding/ignoring the demise of America As We Knew It?


I've been watching lots of NCIS on USA Network in the afternoons/evenings. I tend to do that. I'd much rather watch a marathon of episodes than have to wait a week to see the next show. Since around July first they have had ads for the movie Bruno. From the trailers used in the ads I have only one thing to say: barf! How did this piece of trash ever get made--by anyone? I never understood the making of Borat! either. Not my kind of humor.


Still do NOT wish to talk about the Mets.


Global Warming failed to catch on--perhaps because it had reversed course a decade ago--so now it's Climate Change. Not there's a name and a cause everyone can identify with. But first, please, identify "normal" for me. What is the "normal" climate supposed to be? If there is a "normal" climate, please explain glaciation and ice ages. While you're at it, please explain the observed fluctuations in the form of El Nino and La Nina.

And don't get all hissy about CO2 for Gaia's sake. Instead, go outside and play in the sunshine and then tell me what causes warmth.

Please, Watts Up With That?


I see from reports that Obama is still considering a second stimulus package. Why not! The first one has worked out so well. Thank goodness, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may ve seen the light. Reid Slams Door on Second Stimulus, as Obama Leaves Options Open


In the past year Governor Sarah Palin has been subjected to 15 ethics complaints (make that 16 as a new one has been recently filed) and exonerated in all 15. Still, defending against these BS complaints has taken her and her staff away from the daily duties of governorship of Alaska. She has become a lightening rod of insane activists from the press, the left, and the Democratic party (but I repeat myself). And I do mean "insane" as defined as doing the same wrong thing over and over again hoping for different results. Although, it seems to me, the purpose of these frivolous complaints has been to tie her and her administration in knots and in that they have succeeded. THAT is the reason she is stepping down.

By removing herself from the position of Governor and out of the state's leadership role, she knows the state will be able to get back to business as usual. Additionally, by removing herself from the governor's office, she frees herself to defend against rumor, libel and malice that has been invoked against her and her family.


I sincerely hope that President Obama, the constitutional scholar that he is, understands our Constitution--the one he has sworn to protect and defend--better than the Honduran Constitution by which that country's Supreme Court ordered the arrest of their president when he attempted to force a violation of said document. (Obama's Oxymoraon and In Russia, President Obama Explains His Support for Ousted President of Honduras by Fausta)

There's a lesson to be learned there, Barry. Do not ignore it.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Aerie Report: Tuesday 7/7/09

Ix-nay on the avel-tray.

I'll not be heading to the Bolt Hole this week after all. While the work on the roofs still needs doing, the guy Mark took to look at the project pointed out even more that needed to be done and said he didn't have the time.

I may have to go north to cut grass early next week, but until then I'll be sticking around the Aerie.


Terry and I were awakened by a T-storm this morning at 6 AM. It rumbled through for a little over an hour. We might have been able to stay in bed but Chester started howling for his (and the girls') breakfast.

Another T-storm moved through around noon.

The total rainfall from the two amounted to 0.3 inches.

I blame Terry. Last night she said we'd have to water the garden today. God must have been listening.

The temperature this morning was a cool 55 degrees and it never got above 72 this afternoon. A gorgeous day even with the rain.


The rain caused us to postpone a visit to the Blueberry farm until Wednesday. If the bushes are producing like they were last summer, we should be able to fill up a couple of buckets (about 4 quarts each) in no time. This batch will be for cereal topping, muffins, coffee cake, pancakes, and the freezer.


Logging continues in the Aerie woods. The crew was in and out over the weekend and again early Monday morning. They must be cutting and hauling by species so as to not have to sort at the staging site. My guess is that they are a little more than half way toward completion. Then it will be my turn. They are leaving the tops where they fall ad I'll have to go in to cut them up into fireplace sizes before hauling them out. And for that task, I'll have to get the ATV from the Bolt Hole down here--and for that I'll need a trailer. I could simply put the ATV into the bed of the Tundra, but the bed is a smidge too short which would leave part of the rear of the ATV on the tail gate, and the bed is a little to high to comfortably drive the ATV up and down a ramp.


Started practicing with my bow (an old Jennings Lightening with 65# draw and about 50% let down). Damn thing must be a Democrat. I started out by putting all my shots to the left of where I was aiming. I've since adjusted my sight and am hitting pretty close to center at 20 yards.

I don't use a peep on the string so I've got to be precise as to the anchor point against my cheek. Bringing the fletching of the arrow to rest in the corner of my mouth and looking through my sight which is mounted on the bow just above my left hand, there are many things that could cause me to be off by a half foot or more over 20-30 yards. Tilt my head slightly, tilt the bow (although the sight has a level built in to prevent that), twitch my left hand upon release of the bow string, be off of my anchor point just a quarter of an inch up, down, left or right and the result is a blown shot. A peep on the string would allow me to have to visual points much like a rifle's iron sights. That's far more accurate way to shoot but it's not easy for me with my glasses.

I can do 28-35 shots before the muscles start telling me to quit. I'll just have to do it over and over every day until I can make 50 or more shots. I also want to move out to 30 yards and be able to put all my arrows into the kill zone on a regular basis.

I'm shooting a 125 grain field point to match the 125 grain Magnus Snuffer broadheads I've got. There's a noticeable drop of the arrow even at 20 yards which makes me want to try a couple of 100 grain field tips to see if the arrow would fly flatter. Even then, I might not make the switch. The Snuffer broadheads go for $33-35 per three and I would want at least six, preferable nine--like I already have in 125 grain. The switch could get expensive.

So could the switch to a more modern single cam bow with far more let down than the Jennings. I started bowhunting with the Jennings back in the '80s and it has been a good solid bow. Perhaps too solid. It's a heavy piece of equipment to hold out with one arm while that buck is looking right at you. Still, the price of a new bow....


Still do NOT wish to talk about he Mets. Although, I will say, it's something of a relief not to have to wait until the last day of the season this year.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

tap...tap...tap...Is this thing broken?

I'm speaking about the weather machine. We've had two consecutive days without any rain, lots of sunshine, temperatures into the 70s, and, well, just plain gorgeous weather.

Saturday I managed to get the grass cut and the garden plots weeded before sitting down to a lunch of grilled burgers, cole slaw, macaroni salad, corn on the cob, and watermelon.

Everything is growing like gang busters out there in the garden. And, while we do not feed the seed eaters any more, the birds in residence will certainly help keep bugs away. The wrens and phoebes in particular are our organic insecticide squad. Since each have already fledged one nest full of youngun's, there are plenty of bug eaters out there. (However, should they prove overwhelmed with the responsibility, I'll pull out the Sevin as a back-up.)

We need some bats, though. The mosquito population finds Terry irresistible. She can go outside for two minutes at noon and come back in with half a dozen mosquito bites. And, of course, the wet June weather was perfect for mosquito growth.


Walking about yesterday, I came across a small pile of fur along the power line right of way. It looked like fine rabbit fur. I squated down to look closely and gave it a small prod with my index finger. It moved in response and four little noses poked upward. Four tiny little cottontails with their eyes still closed huddled in that tiny "nest" (actually, I believe it is called a "form") that was no more than a hollow in the leaves covered by fur plucked from their mother's breast. They must have thought my probing finger was their mother returning.

I went back to the cabin to get my camera--and Terry. Returning to the form, I showed Terry my discovery. The little ones weren't much larger than a deer mouse without the tail and had ears just the tiniest bit larger. Each one had a white blaze running vertically down their forehead.

I tried to take a picture, but they insisted upon returning to their little hole in the leaves every time I brought them out. Not wanting to stress them over much, I yielded to Terry's wish to just leave them be.

Cute little things. Probably the second litter of the season for their mom. If they start playing Peter Cottontail to my Farmer McGregor, however, it will be hasenpfeffer time.


It was a mere 51 degrees this morning at 7 AM. No clouds in the sky will do that. Could get even cooler tonight with a low in the upper 40s.


I do not wish to--and will not--talk about the Mets except to note that they are now four games back and in fourth place in the NL East after dropping three in a row to the Phillies.


The guys were out cutting trees and hauling logs out of the woods yesterday and today. Granted they only worked about half a day each day but still--Fourth of July and then Sunday? I guess, like a farmer mowing hay, they need to get some production out ot the nice days when ever they fall. I can totally understand that.


I'll probably be heading back up to the Bolt Hole this week. The roofs of the cabin (three of em) require a good cleaning and painting. One has a minor amount of rust but the other two will require some serious pressure washing before they get painted. One also has an old, unused brick chimney that is in horrible condition and that needs to be removed. It used to run down into the kitchen where there was a stove/fireplace. Today it runs only about two feet below the peak of the roof and is supported by heavy timbers.

Some T-storms are predicted for early in the week so Wednesday through Friday look like the best days for roof work but it's not up to me. I'll just be free labor on this one. Mark's arranging for the paid supervisor/boss and will join me as part of the staff.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

John Philip Sousa
Stars and Stripes Forever

Independence Day, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

It's 233 years since the first signature went on to the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security....

Enjoy it while it lasts and be prepared to defend it if it is threatened.


Should be a beautiful day for a picnic, a parade, and fireworks. Swimming? Maybe if you're a polar bear. After several days (weeks?) of cold, wet, windy weather we can finally eliminate the middle man. It's just cold and windy today. But not as windy as it has been. Certainly as cold as you can get in July. This morning's low was 55 degrees at 7 AM. The weather quacks say it will get up to 75 or so later this afternoon. Maybe so.

If my get up and go hasn't gotten up and went, I'll be firing up the lawn mower to cut the lawn while I can. Then there's some weeding of the garden that needs to be done. The second planting of lettuce (Romaine as opposed to the leaf variety) has sprouted and we should be harvesting from that in about two weeks. Lettuce really loves this chilly weather. The beans and tomatoes are loaded with flowers and the tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini are setting fruit.

Speaking of zucchini, we've got one more loaf of zucchini bread in the freezer from last year. It's dated 7/21 which was a day or so after I picked some zukes up from a neighbor's "Free" box on the corner. My zukes began producing a week or so later and we ended up with about three dozen loaves of bread and lots of grilled, fried, and raw zucchini in our meals.


Terry saw an ad in the local Penny Saver yesterday that indicates the blueberry farm we picked at last year will be opening for business starting Monday, July 6th. That seems a bit early to me considering the cool weather we've had this spring. Might have to check it out, however. Those were some good berries!


Got an email from my son that his wife, Sandy, is still studying hard for her bar exams later this month but that she has already landed a job up in Portland. It means that their delayed honeymoon to the Boundary Waters area of Minnesota, scheduled for after she takes the bar exam, will be cut short. It also means that they will be moving out of Eugene and that he will have to find himself a new job as--even if they split the distance--the commute to his work site would be prohibitive. He's a certified arborist working with a tree company. He's often the one to climb the tallest trees and lop off the top branches. Or he'll run the stump grinder, drive the truck, chip the limbs, do job estimates.... He's still got all his fingers and toes so he hasn't been at this long. ;-)


Another email from my nephew Brian in Chicago mentions that he has passed his final exam and is officially a CPA. His girlfriend, Vicky, has taken her final test and is awaiting the results.

UPDATE: Brian's Mom, my Sis-in-Law, emails to say that Vicky passed her tests, too, so there're two new CPAs in Chicago. Way to go Vicky! (Funny though how Brian didn't mention that in his email yesterday.)


Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Ark better have a heater!

Jeez, what a rotten day today has been weather wise.

It started by being just 58 degrees at 7 AM and never got above 66 degrees all day. There wasa steady but not strong breeze out of the north most of the day which helped keep the temperatures down. (Thanks a heap Canada!)

Then there was that 60% chance of rain that was forecast. Well, we got it. It would rain for around 40 minutes of every hour, but never the same 40 minutes. We might have even strung together an entire 40 minutes of no rain with a tiny bit of sunshine during one two hour stretch. Some of the showers were subtle, some were not. Thunder occurred more than once during the afternoon.

Seems July has started out just like June. Which was, of course, more like a typical April with lots of showers and cold (yeah, COLD, not cool) temperatures.

Global warming my gluttious maximus!

The only thing that is really enjoying this weather is the grass. It needs cutting badly but until there's a few hours of continuous sunshine, I will not be able to do the deed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vegan vs Carnivore

Saw this at the Fail Blog and thought it was worth posting.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog