Friday, April 30, 2010

Oh! My aching back...and knees

Definitely a Top 10 Day at the Aerie. Sunny, high in the low 80s and just a hint of a breeze (if you call a steady 10 mph a "hint") to keep things feeling cooler.

And I spent it on the deck...on my hands and knees...with a 1" putty knife in my hand trying to get all the GD sunflower seed shells out from between the deck floor boards. I knew we should have left a larger gap between boards. Instead we butted them edge to edge and let nature shrink the boards ever so slightly. And shrink they did, just enough for the seed hulls to get in and, in some cases, not enough for the putty knife.

It took me nearly six (6!) hours to do the 10' x 36' deck in front and the 10' x 16' deck under the roof on the side. My hands are still sore from gripping the putty knife. My knees--despite the use of pads--are sore from crawling about on all fours. And my back...Oy! I didn't even see the elephant climb atop me while I worked.

I did NOT get around to applying the wash today. That will wait until tomorrow. And the staining, which will require me to get back onto my knees again, that can wait until at least Sunday.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aerie Report, April 28, 2010

Another Top 10 Day here at the Aerie. 'Twas 35 or so at day break with a breeze out of the north-northwest but the sun shone and the sky was clear. Got up to 67 this afternoon. I'd take days like this for half the year. I confess to enjoying the occasional snowfall or even the rain. It's those damn 90 degree days that do me in--especially if it's humid to boot.


Terry and I loaded up the Jeep Compass with the bundled magazines and drove over the hill to the recycling center/landfill. It's nice to have made a (small) dent in the crap we have in the basement. Next up is to see what I can discard from the computer software/hardware.


Back at the Aerie, I took advantage of the nice weather to take a walk around the lawn with two Craftsman friends, Mr. Briggs and Mr. Stratton. They were eager to get out of the garage and joined me after just one pull on their starter cord. We managed to mulch up quite a few of the leaves that had blown in since I raked a few weeks ago and reduced the height of the grass blades to a uniform and even dimension. Sadly, we were unable to remove the flowers form the multitude of dandelions growing rampant upon the greensward. Those bright yellow flowers have been trained to keep their heads down low and, except for a few foolhardy enough to attempt an uprising, remained unscathed. I'd break out the chemical weapons but that might yield too much collateral damage. Even now, those spots where I waged war upon the spiny thistles with Roundup are a blight upon the lawn that will require some remedial attention.


None of the above was what I wanted to do today. I had wanted to get up on the hill with the ATV and chainsaw to get more firewood in before the turkey season starts on Saturday. I got sidetracked but it had to get done. Since tomorrow looks to be a repeat of today, I'll be spending time prepping the deck with a deck wash to remove mildew and soil so I can apply a coat of sealant/waterproofer/stain.

The first trick will be to pry all the sunflower seed shells from between the deck boards. That'll require some work with a thin blade or a simple nail-on-a-stick to get between the boards. And that can only be done while kneeling down and progressing one laborous foot at a time.

Then I'll be able to spray on the deck wash, let it sit for a spell and then rinse it off. That part sounds easy enough--especially since it can all be done while standing up.

Once it's been cleaned and allowed to dry, it will be time to apply the protecting coat. The weather is supposed to hold through Saturday and even get warmer (highs Saturday in the 80s) with just a 40% chance of thunderstorms developing so I plan on doing the application of sealant/waterproofer/stain after our morning bird walk and lunch unless the weather quacks change the forecast and say it will be more than 50% chance of precipitation.


It rained a boat load on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, right? Well, we are already in a Red Flag Warning in so far as burning is concerned. The sun and winds have dried things out so much that there's a serious risk of wildfires. When there are no leaves on half the trees, the sun can really dry out the understory. That's when the greatest danger of fires occurs. Sure, lightening does start some in the middle of the summer, especially out in the mountain west, but here in the east, spring is fire season. Another good reason to stay out out of the woods, hold off on burning brush and trash, and pay close attention to your smokes. Like old Smokey says, "Only you can prevent forest fires." And he's right--most of the time, although Mother Nature (or Gaia, if you wish) starts her fair share as well.

True Confessions

I am a pack rat.

I save an inordinate amount of stuff that should have long ago found its way to a landfill or recycling center. Specifically, I horde magazines, catalogs and books. There's something about the printed word that makes me want to hold on to it long past its expired date.

When we moved out of New Jersey, I bundled and put on the curb years and years of back issues of magazines like Adirondack Life, Adirondac, American Hunter, Audubon, National Geographic, New York Game and Fish, etc. Most had been read and enjoyed before then being placed into storage for some esoteric reason. (Terry has her own bunch of magazines about stitching arts and/or cooking. Just so you know I'm not the only one.) I never looked at them after the first week or so in the house.

Since arriving in PA, I've repeated that bad habit so that I now have nearly four years of accumulated issues. Today I started bundling them again so as to take them to the local garbage disposal center. It's quite a pile. Oh, not as big as the one when we left NJ--those could have been made into a heck of a cabin by themselves if glued, stacked and anchored appropriately. The R-value of paper in such a densely built wall is probably akin to that of an 8" log wall if not higher. Still, I really need to get into the habit of reading and disposing within a month.

Oh, I'll still hang on to some of the magazines I subscribe to. Publications like Wood, ScrollSaw, The Family Handyman, etc., contain useful how-to articles as well as patterns that I can use. The same goes for Fly Fisherman. You never know when I'll want to go back to tying flies some cold, snow day in February.

Let us not even talk about the boxes and boxes of floppy discs and software for computers that no longer exist.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Place Mets
Sounds good!

First Place Mets

Yeah, sounds very, very good. And I don't really care how early in the season it is. People were writing them off after the first week and a half. But now.... Now they have won 9 out of 10 games on the just completed home stand. The swept the Braves and the Dodgers (7-3 today--sorry Gene) and lost only one to the Cubs in a four game series.

Mets rolling along while causing confusion

After a 3-7 start that had people talking about everything from firing the manager to imploding Citi Field--and the team with it, the Mets are now 13 and 9 with a 1/2 game lead over the Second Place Phillies (12-9).

Can they keep it going? We'll soon see as they hit the road for six games. First they go off to Philly to face the Second Place Phillies (I love saying that: "Second Place Philies") for a three game weekend series and then on to Cincinnati for three against the Reds. If they can win four of the six--they are currently 2-4 on the road--things will definitely be looking bright in Flushing.

An idea whose time may have arrived

“Darwin Man!”
...there are members of the human herd that should be clubbed down like harp seals for the good of the race entire. Seriously. There ought to be a superhero — “Darwin Man!” — who appears, bludgeons the wart on humanity into paste — “For the good of all mankind, I apply the rod of Natural Selection!” – and disappears until necessity calls. He’d probably be overbooked as all Hell.

from crankylitprof, who, it seems, has had it up to here with rudeness.

I'd volunteer for I totally agree with crankylitprof's sentiments as espoused in his her brief essay, but I look like hell in spandex.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Aerie Report, April 27, 2010

Not much to say today. The weather at the Aerie has been changing more swiftly than a hummingbird darting about the flower patch. At 7 AM we had strong winds out of the north northwest and mostly clear skies. Sure, the temperature was only 39 and falling (got down to 37 at 9 AM) but the day held promise...for about half an hour. Then the clouds rolled in--the reason the temperatures continued to fall through 9 AM. Then the clouds started spitting snow and sleet. At least it wasn't hail.

The snow/sleet didn't amount to anything but it sure made things raw and chilly. That's why I built a fire. Only had to reload the fireplace once before the clouds got the message and disappeared. The sun shone all afternoon with nary a cloud to block it and the outside temperature did rise--to 46 degrees. Luckily, the heat from the fireplace and the sun shining through the windows late in the day made the house nice and toasty as well as dry.


Terry went swimming again today after Curves. The coach says she's doing really well now that she's got herself a pair of goggles and doesn't worry about getting her face wet. Now she wants some ear plugs because of her childhood fear of earaches. She keeps it up she's going to look like an Olympic swimmer.

Today she was practicing the freestyle and trying to get the breathing down while going the length of the pool. She says she can notice a difference in her stamina as she can pretty much go the entire distance nonstop. She still has to learn how to float. I've tried to convince her that it's not about keeping your toes above the water and that a "dead man's float" wherein you keep your back arched, toes down and head back so just your face is above the water is the way to save energy. We had to do 15 minutes of that every time we got into the pool at Rutgers for gym class. Add a life vest and you can float all day like that.

I'm glad she's getting swimming lessons and seems to be improving as much as she says she is. Whenever we go a motel/campground with a pool, she's always held back and remained in the shallow end. Mow, perhaps, she'll be able to enjoy the water a bit more.


The Mets-Dodgers game got rained out last night so they are playing a true double header today. The Mets took the first game 4-0 which gives them five in a row and eight (8) wins in their last ten games.

In the nightcap, the Mets jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first but have given it all back in the fourth as the Dodgers batted around and scored three of their own off Oliver Perez who is now out of the game.

The Mets offense has not been their strong suit in the current streak. They've been picking and scratching fro most of their runs. The guys who are supposed to be the big RBI guys haven't been. They need to ramp things up a bit at the plate. Walks may set the table but it's hits that will drive them in.

UPDATE: Mets 10, Dodgers 5 in the nightcap. David Wright went 3-for-3 with a pair of singles and a triple. He drove in 4 runs. Ike Davis, whose call-up to the big club seems to have spurred the Mets' resurgence, was 1-for-2 in the game with 3 RBI.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Aerie Report, April 25, 2010

It's a very raw, rainy day here at the Aerie. The overnight temperatures never got below 41 as the "dropped" from 42 degrees just after midnight. It hasn't gotten above 48 degrees during the day, either. That's sorta understandable since we've been getting a nice gentle rain all day. The cloud ceiling is hovering at just over 2100 feet at the Aerie, but just a short distance across the cove we can see only the very base of the lowest windmill as the clouds have engulfed everything else above 2000 feet. A quick peek at the forecast shows more of the same for tonight and tomorrow morning.

Could be worse, the National Weather Service issued a sever thunderstorm warning last evening saying there was a possibility of 1" diameter hail stones. It looked like we might really get hit hard as the radar showed huge patches of bright yellow and red off to our southeast. As often happens around here, however, those cells got broken up as soon as they began to hit the mountains north of I-80 and east of the Allegheny National Forest. By the time they got here, they were whipped. We didn't even get any of the high winds that thunderstorms usually produce.


We had company for dinner yesterday. Cousin Joe and his wife, Pat, came out from New Jersey to pick up some packing boxes. They've purchased a home about an hour south of here and will be having the closing on April 30th. Their home in New Jersey hasn't been placed on the market yet, but they'll be packing and hauling the small stuff out ASAP. Joe refuses to deal with the larger pieces of furniture and will hire a moving company to do the heavy lugging.

Joe and Pat were here for a couple of hours and left with a pick-up truck full of folded up boxes during a break in the rain. From looking at the radar, they may have been able to make it all the way home along I-80 without running into any rain.


Joe was down in Virginia last week hunting with our buddy Doug in the western part of the state for turkey. Said he was lucky enough to get off a seven year skid and bag a nice Tom. I'm not much of one for turkey hunting--never tried it--but I keep hearing some gobbling every morning as they come off the roost. Considering my neighbor and his cousin bagged a bird opening day last year, I'm tempted. But then I think of how Terry and I are trying to empty the freezer before we hit the road to Alaska....


Soft, gentle rains like this and the cool temperatures have been a boon to the grass. I can stand on the deck (under the covered porch roof) and literally watch the dang stuff grow. Keeps it up, I'll be pushing a mower before the weekend.

Food for thought

Got this list of wise observations from a friend of Terry's via email.

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your
computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize
you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was
younger. [Too bad sleep is not cumulative and can't be paid forward, i.e. 10 hours tonight will make up for only 4 hours next Thursday. Instead, you can only "pay" back what you've missed--if you have the time.]

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font. [Jeeze, ya think? /sarc]

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? [The only reason fitted sheets were invented were to save about a foot wide strip of material on each sheet that would normally be tucked under the mattress. That and to annoy the hell out of people trying to fold them.]

6. Was learning cursive really necessary? [Lost art of the 19th century...maybe early 20th, too.]

7. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure
I know how to get out of my neighborhood. [And MQ usually provides the most ridiculous means of doing so.]

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the
person died. [If your not family, is there any other reason to read them?]

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired. [See #3 above.]

10. Bad decisions make good stories. [Hoo-boy! Do they ever. The best you can hope for is to be an observer of someoneelse's bad decision.]

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work
when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the
rest of the day. [As a teacher, it was usually in the first class period, during the morning announcements...or when the wake-up alarm went off on any day when there were district-wide faculty meetings.]

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray ? I
don't want to have to restart my collection...again. [Dude! I'm so with you on this one! I've still got a shelf full of LPs and even 45s, not to mention the boxes of VHS tapes.]

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if
I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did
not make any changes to. [And I thought I was the only one who panicked when this happens.]

14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this -
ever. ['Nuff said.]

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn
it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to
voicemail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run
away? [I start to worry they were trying to call me to say they were having a heart attack or something.]

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing
anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to
answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or
Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay. [Don't forget Tequila in Margaritas. And jello shooters. Definitely jello shooters.]

21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and
suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw
it. [Old age means every movie ever made is fresh and new all over again. I can't remember if I saw "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Christmas Story" or "The Princess Bride".]

22. I'd rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take
2 trips to bring my groceries in. [It's an efficiency thing. I mean, you make the shopping list so you don't have to go to the store over and over again to pickup forgotten items, right? Same principal. One trip and you're done.]

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to
finish a text. [One of those new fangled skills I've yet to entangle myself with. Sure, my cell can do it...but not alone.]

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and
hunger. [That's why there are hobbies like beading and fly-tying. Things that will keep your hands busy and eyes focused anywhere but the fridge.]

25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and
smile because you still didn't hear or understand or care about a word they
said? [What?]

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to
prevent an ass from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and
sisters! [Right on!]

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get
dirty, and you can wear them forever. [When they can walk to the laundry room on their own, they can get washed. And not a day (week?) sooner!]

28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are
going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but
no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists. [And joggers with iPods--on narrow roads--running with the traffic.]

31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not
know what time it is.

32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys
in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey -
but I'd bet my behind everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3
feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time! [See #s 3 and 9 above.]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Aerie weather

It's been raining at the Aerie since 7 PM last night and it seems likely to continue through the day and possibly through Tuesday--if AccuHunch is to be believed. They say we'll see close to two inches of precipitation from this event. After such a dry start to the month of April this is most welcome. The rain is a slow, steady soaker with the only surface water visible from the down spouts of the gutters. Everything is just soaking into the earth at the moment. With the temperatures in the 40s and low 50s, I expect that the grass and trees will just go "SPROING!" when all is said and done.

The dairy farmers have to be looking at their pastures with a gleam in their eyes. Cows which have been in the feed lots and barns are probably doing the same. All that green has to look mighty inviting after nothing but hay and grain for months on end.

Bird list for April 24 at Hills Creek SP

Here's my complete report from our Saturday morning bird walk at Hills Creek State Park.

Location: Hills Creek SP
Observation date: 4/24/10
Notes: Little breeze; temps ranged from 34 to 50 under bright, sunny skies.
Number of species: 28

Canada Goose X
Wood Duck X
Mallard X
Double-crested Cormorant X
Osprey X
Broad-winged Hawk X
Red-tailed Hawk X
Ring-billed Gull X
Caspian Tern X
Mourning Dove X
Northern Flicker X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Tree Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse X
House Wren X
American Robin X
European Starling X
Yellow-rumped Warbler X
Pine Warbler X
Chipping Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X
White-throated Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Northern Cardinal X
Common Grackle X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Aerie Report, April 24, 2010

We had a beautiful couple of days here at the Aerie. It's getting kinda boring saying that but it's true. Dawn has been cloudless if somewhat chilly with temperatures at around the freezing mark. Those clear skies continue through the day and the afternoon gets into the low to mid 60s.

All that has come to an end. According to AccuHunch we are in for close to two inches of rain during the next two to three days. It's already started bit the heaviest rains won't get here for hours yet.

It was the prospect of rain that had me hustling up and down the hill. Once the rain is over, I expect the bugs to get worse and the heat to work its way onto the area. Besides, turkey season starts on May 1 and I want to be out of that area of the woods since my neighbor has asked permission to hunt there.

I also wanted to get the gardens turned over and the onions in the ground before the rain came. Winter had packed the soil pretty tightly and it needed to be broken up so the rain could soak in. And the onions were starting to grow in their plastic bags. (They should have been stored in brown paper bags that would not let any light in, but....)


I was busy yesterday. In the morning I went out to get the cap on the Tundra and then stopped at the Mansfield Agway to get a dozen bags of topsoil. Then, after lunch, I spent time on the hillside with the chainsaw and ATV. First, I used the chainsaw to cut some more of the tree tops into little, itsy, bitsy pieces--save for those sections that were more than 4" in diameter. Those I cut into lengths for the fireplace.

When the chainsaw decided it had enough and I couldn't get it started again--something that seems to happen after two or three hours and right after I refill the gas tank--I retired it and went back with just the ATV and a length of rope. I made five trips up and down the hill with loads of firewood on the back of the Yamaha ProHauler. Even so, I only managed to get about half the wood I've already cut down the hill before I called it quits.


This morning I went on the Bird Walk at Hills Creek State Park. Then I broke up soil clumps and spread the top soil on one garden bed. I also planted about two pounds of onion sets--half red and half white--in the other bed.

Then I sat down to do battle with the computer. Firefox was not being very friendly. It would not open half the time. So I tried a couple of things--all time consuming and, ultimately, futile--before reinstalling the program. Luckily reinstalling--without first uninstalling--does not get rid of the myriad of bookmarks I've accumulated over time.

All told, I lost about four hours to the computer gods while fiddle farting around trying to get back on Firefox. I hope it doesn't start misbehaving again.


Have I covered enough topics without going near politics? I hope so. Politics and our political class (I guess there really are "two Americas" after all) are two topics I want to avoid for fear of raising my blood pressure too high. I'd sooner haul 40 pound bags of topsoil, use a chainsaw continuously for 3 hours, or haul and stack firewood than talk politics right now.

Birds and Flowers

I went on a bird walk today at Hills Creek State Park. A few of the migrants are beginning to arrive and some have moved on. Today's highlight (beside the great weather for a walk around the east end of the park) was the sighting of a Caspian Tern on the lake. We also saw our first House Wren of the year, a couple of Wood Ducks (including one that posed nicely while perched in the trees), a Pine Warbler, a Yellow-rumped Warbler and some White-throated Sparrows on their way to the far north.

Wood Duck in the woods

A former botany instructor and current photography club member was leading a wildflower walk elsewhere in the county today. I hope they saw something as colorful as the Purple Trilliums that are still blooming on the lake shore.

Purple Trillium

The Tundra's new cap

I mentioned that the Tundra has a new Leer cap. having covered, waterproof, and lockable storage in the back of the truck will go a long way to making travel inside the cab more comfortable. Plus, the presence of the cap changes the aerodynamics of the Tundra. They claim that you can get 3-4 miles per gallon more by having a cap or tonneau on the bed of your truck. It'll be interesting to see if that's true.

The Tundra Before

The Tundra After

Terry got lucky.

Terry got home from Jamestown, NY, tonight just ahead of the rain. Well, she would have been ahead of the rain if she hadn't stopped at Wally World for some items for dinner.

She had been in Jamestown for the regional conference for the Embroiderers' Guild of America (EGA). As they usually do at these affairs, there were baskets of goodies to be raffled off. Each chapter usually puts one together and it might include just about anything. Terry bought a couple of tickets and put them in for two baskets she really liked. And, as usually happens, she managed to win one of them. (Actually, it's a surprise when she DOESN'T win one--or more.) Between the bottle of wine, maple syrup, mug and hot chocolate, books on embroidery, pattern books, kits, and everything else in that basket, she estimates it's value as in the neighborhood of $100-$125. Not bad for a $7 investment. If I thought she'd be as lucky with the lottery, I'd be handing her the money every week. Unfortunately(?), her luck only seems to hold for items related to stitching.

Terry's basket of goodies.

While there, she took a class on beading and made a lovely pendant.

Beaded pendant by Terry.

It's about 2-1/2 inches long and is made from some of the smallest beads--size 11 and 15--around a cabochon. Heh. Good thing we just got our eyes checked! As I've told lots of folks: She has got some mad skillz!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aerie Report, April 22, 2010

Being as it was Earth Day, I spent a couple of hours today playing in the dirt. I weeded the two large garden plots and turned over the earth in each. I can confirm that the black flies are out here, too. I was working in short sleeves and got a couple of bites on my forearms.

I raked out one bed to make it ready for the planting of onion sets. I'm doubling the number of onions going in the ground this year for three reasons: 1) we ran a little short this winter in the home-grown onion department 2) Terry wants some white as well as yellow onions and 3) they require so little attention once they get started. Since we will be gone for much of the summer, that last was a vital part in the decision.

The other bed is where we grew cukes, tomatoes, and string beans last year. It had a thin layer of straw on it over the winter. I turned that in but found the soil to be pretty solid lumps of clay despite the 20 bags of top soil I mixed in there last year. I'll let it sit until Saturday afternoon before adding more top soil and raking it out.

We're not planning much of a garden this year since we'll be on the road for much of the summer. The only other plants that will go in the ground are melons and squash--winter squash, not zucchini. If we put zukes in we would have baseball bats by the time we get home in late August and those aren't good for much except, well, baseball. The melons and butternut squash, as pre-started seedlings from Agway, will go into specially prepared mounds of a mix of topsoil and cow manure. With luck, we should have a bountiful harvest if the borers don't get them. Since we haven't had any borers in the zukes the last two years, we should be okay.

We will not be planting any lettuce or spinach--they will just bolt while we are away and will not get used. Nor will we bother with tomatoes. It's too short a season, and they require lots of water and flower picking to keep them tight. The same for bell peppers. Our season is too short and they just don't do well even in pots on the deck. We'll pass on the cucumbers for the same reason as the zucchini. And string beans? If no one is here to pick them once they start producing, they too will be like baseball bats when we get home! I suppose I could grow navy beans or lima beans but then I'd have to dry them to store them properly.


Terry went with a few of her stitching friends today to visit the History Center in Ithaca, NY. One of the women she knows had an exhibit of Hungarian embroidery there and she gave them a personal tour and explanation of the materials. They had lunch at Moosewood, a famous vegetarian restaurant.


We took a little walk outside after dinner this evening and found quite a few wildflowers growing along the ATV/log skidding trail that winds around the hill. Parts of the slope are quite moist so there were violets, spring beauty, trout lillies, columbine (still too early for flowers) and even horse tails. There were another four or five we couldn't identify from memory. I'll have to go back there tomorrow with my camera and see if I can get some pictures. The forecast is for nearly an inch of rain on Sunday and if they are correct, that should mean an abundance of growth early next week.


I planned to go down to the Mansfield Agway tomorrow morning to get some bags of topsoil, but I got a call this evening that the cap for the Tundra was in and they would like me to be there around 10 AM to get it installed. They're about 30 minutes away and installation should take about an hour. I'll get the dirt after. The cap is too important. My Tundra will have a whole new appearance by noon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Aerie Report, April 21, 2010

A beautiful day in the north country and down home at the Aerie. Morning temps at the Bolt Hole were in the low 30s although it did reach down to 25 overnight. It was slightly warmer at the Aerie and the afternoon high was 63 degrees under a mostly sunny sky.

The winds at the Aerie were confusing this afternoon and I watched the windmills--which were barely moving at all--swing from the northwest to the west and then the south as a small wave of sun showers swept through.

The shower only lasted 15 or 20 minutes but it was quite hard. Since it was late int he afternoon, the sun was able to shine beneath the cloud that was producing the rain at the Aerie and over the clouds that produced showers to the north. Very weird.


It was such a nice morning that I decided to eschew my regular path home and follow Route 12B out of Utica down through Hamilton until it met up with Route 12. From there it was on to I-81 to Binghamton and then Route 17 west to Waverly/Sayre and Route 220 into PA and on to Route 6 west and home. Route 12B was a new stretch of road and quite a lovely ride through some nice farm country and small villages.

The route I followed turned out to be about 10 miles shorter than the ones I usually take but the slower speeds meant longer time, but only about 20 minutes. On the plus side, those slower speeds also meant better MPG according to the on-board computer--just a touch over 19 MPG versus the 18 or so I get if I follow the NYS Thruway to the Route 14 exit and down along the western shore of Lake Seneca to Watkins Glen. Of course, I also saved about $6 in tolls.


Back at the Aerie, I spotted the first Wild Turkey from the deck. We've heard them on several mornings but this was the first of the year. Just one, sneaking through the woods after I stepped out on the deck, but it was proof positive that they are out there. The spring turkey season starts on May 1st.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Break up the Mets!

The Amazin's have won two straight against the Cubbies.

Last night's victory came on and Angel Pagan 2-run homer in the 8th that put the Mets ahead 3-1. (They would win 4-1 after Ike Davis--appearing in his first major league game at first base--got his second hit and drove in a run--also in the 8th.) Jon Niese pitched well but didn't get the win when Nieve allowed an inherited runner to score.

Tonight they won 4-0 behind outstanding pitching by Mike Pelfrey and the resurrection of Jose Reyes (a two-RBI triple in the second inning and 4-for-5 for the night). The gravy came on a pinch-hit home run by Fernando Tatis with Ike Davis on first--again in the 8th inning.

Now, if David Wright and Jason Bay would only join the party....

Bolt Hole Report, April 20, 2010

head out of the Aerie early this morning headed northeast to pick up the trailer. It was a great and glorious day to be out and about. It would have been even better if it was spent in the garden or the woods. But, things have to get done.

The trailer was ready with a note that the battery (12V deep cycle RV/Marine type) was a little wonky with its electrolyte balance and, while working fine at the moment, would probably need replacing soon. Since Alpin Haus had some on the shelf, I figured there was no time like the present. So while they searched for the trailer's keys (too many techs and too many locations for them to put 'em!)--and for the trailer--I looked over the battery selection and made a choice of a nice new Interstate.

I have to admit, I am to blame for the old battery's failure. When not in use, you should recharge it once a month and never, ever leave it out in the freezing weather. I had two strikes against me and I wasn't about to take a chance on number three while we were on the road.

All the inspections and repairs and battery cost me a pretty penny (or closer to 10K of them) but I feel very confident in the working condition of the old girl now. And those 10K pennies? Less than one per mile of this upcoming trip.


So, after driving 225 miles to Alpin Haus in Amsterdam to pick up the trailer, I drove another 70 miles with trailer in tow to the Bolt Hole to put it in the barn for the next five weeks or so. Come the end of May, it will be taken down to Hills Creek State Park in PA there to be a home away from home, so to speak, while we load her up for The Trip. Easier to do that when we are just 20 miles from the Aerie instead of doing it at the Bolt Hole, 225 miles away. I'd park it in the Aerie's driveway, but it's not quite flat enough nor an easy place access water or electricity. For less than $200 I can have a lakeside camp site for a week, access to a Wally World, several supermarkets and the Aerie while we make out our packing lists.


When I got to the Bolt Hole I found that Mark was still at his cabin--and that he had parked his truck in the barn to make my place look occupied. We had a nice long talk while he showed me some new game pics of bears (Dufus, mostly) and deer from a spot behind his place. Then he came over to my place to move his truck and help me back the trailer into the barn. One pass is all it took. I'm getting pretty good at this! We also dug out some things from the garage that will go south with me including the box I built to serve as a portable kitchen when we went across country with the kids back in '93. It will be used for canned goods and cooking gear on this trip.


I stepped outside just after dark to get a jacket I had left in the truck and was privy to the mating flight of a male woodcock. The "peent" call from the ground is followed by a tightly spiraling flight upward during which the bird is whistling the entire time. Up and up he goes until suddenly he stops and swiftly glides back to the ground--some times in the same spot from which he launched his flight, some times to a slightly more promising location--and the "peent" call is repeated. It's one awesome sight!


The water in the small pond in front of the Bolt Hole is about six inches lower than it was a month ago but it is still host to several frogs an newts--and their masses of jellied eggs. You can clearly see that most of the eggs are already developing into either tadpoles or efts. The little black dot in the center of the jelly is no longer spherical but elongated.

There are another set of eggs in there, however, that do not belong to the common newt or the frogs. These are quite a bit larger and, while still enmeshed in jelly, are single rows about 3/4 of an inch wide. The center of the strips contains a 1/4 inch diameter, very white, orb. These probably belong to a spotted salamander which I've raked out of there in the past. Six inches long, 3/4 to an inch wide, very black on the back, white underbelly and a pale blue-purple stripe where the black and white meet. Add the bright yellow polka dots over the back and you have a very pretty little creature.


Well, that's about it for now. Tomorrow, I'll be up early to brew a half pot of coffee, do the dishes and then head out the door for the Aerie.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Aerie Report, April 19, 2010

Beautiful day here at the Aerie. The sun is shining brightly and there's a fresh breeze blowing out of the north. The overnight temperature was in the low 30s (enough to put some frost on the truck windshield this morning) and has not risen above 60 degrees which is fine by me.


Terry went up to Horseheads today for one of her EGA meetings. A handful of ladies got together to do some stitching and gossip about folks who didn't show. The usual.


I went to bed last night with reduced but still significant pain in my lower left back but, as I expected, woke up this morning with no pain at all. It just takes some serious R & R to get the nerves to stop their silly swelling and the pain disappears like that.

So, of course, I spent four hours on the hill with Mr. Chainsaw cutting tree tops into smaller brush piles and logs into firewood lengths. Four hours seems to be the limit for the chainsaw. It's a homeowner's Craftsman model (42cc bar with an 18") and it's not made to work all day. Fine by me! But I sure wish it had a better way for communicating when it feels it's time to quit. Trying to get it started with that pull cord when it doesn't want to run any more could through a guy's shoulder out.


When I got back to the Aerie, I spotted a Turkey Vulture floating in the breeze BELOW the cabin. I thought I could smell something in the way of rotting meat myself and wonder if it was trying to zero in on the location. I did see one on the road when I went for the mail around 8:30 AM and it was feeding on a dead rabbit. That one lifted up and made one circle before landing again as I went passed.


Later, there was a small helicopter moving back and forth down in the valley. Looks like they are ferrying small bags of equipment from Point A to Point B for the gas crews.


Got a phone call from Alpin Haus this morning saying the part for the trailer's AC was in and they will be repairing it today or tomorrow. The part cost $20 but labor will run around $60.

UPDATE: Trailer is ready for pick-up. I guess my next two days are planned. One day up to pick up the trailer and take it to the Bolt Hole; then an overnight and early departure on Wednesday to get back to the Aerie.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Aerie Report, April 18, 2010

So, got up this morning to 30 degrees at the Aerie (2100' elevation) and a quarter to half inch of snow that started at about 2000 feet and went up the hill. And on the deck, that snow clearly showed the imprints of bear paws. *sigh* At least the bruin found nothing to eat and moved on.

The snow melted before 9 AM ant the sun is attempting to break through the clouds. It's interesting to sit here and watch patches of sunlit ground move across the landscape.

It's not supposed to warm up much beyond 60 until late in the week. Sounds like good weather to get back on the hill with the chainsaw. But the gas crews were up there yesterday and I can see more orange flagged markers. I'll have to keep my eyes open for any drilling and explosives placed for the 3-D seismic testing they are/will be doing.


The Mets and the Cards are playing again tonight. This one is to be broadcast on ESPN so, yeah, I'll be tuned in to watch. I imagine lots of guys slept late today!

Mets 2-1 in Seven, long hours and 20 innings.

It took nearly 7 hours, 20 innings and almost every player on both sides but the Mets finally succeeded in winning a game that went more than 20 innings. They outlasted the Cardinals last night in a 2-1 contest. As to be expected in such a game weird things happened as players played where they never had before in a major league game.

Alex Cora of the Mets, usually a shortstop, filled in at first base for an inning or two and made a fantastic catch of a foul ball as he fell into the stands. John Maine, Sunday night's starting pitcher for the Mets, came in as a pinch runner. Another member of the pitching rotation, Oliver Perez came out on deck to pinch hit at one point but never got into the game. Starter Jonathon Niese did come in to pinch hit. And starter Mike Pelfrey came entered the bottom of the 20th in relief and got the save.

For the Cards, Kyle Lohse, usually a starting pitcher, played left field for three innings. Filipe Lopez, who hit a grand slam for all the Cardinal runs in Friday night's 4-3 win, started at short, moved to third, pitched one inning (the 18th) and then went back to third base. Joe Mather pinch hit in the 10th inning and then stayed around to play center, third base, and then pitch the final two innings absorbing the loss.

There were many players on both sides that played all 20 innings, but the one that stands out in my mind is Yadier Molina who caught all 20 innings for the Cardinals. He and home plate umpire C.B. Bucknor deserve a day off.

Take a gander at this box score.

The hitters' batting averages certainly did not improve much in this one, but the pitchers' ERAs plummeted as well--and that's a good thing.


The Mets have played in some of the longest games in baseball history--and usually ended up holding the short end of the stick. They have lost games that went 23, 24 and 25 innings.

They lost to the Giants 8-6 in 23 innings at Shea on May 31, 1964--the second game of a double header!!

Then the Astros beat them 1-0 in a 24-innings on April 15, 1968, at the Houston Astrodome.

They dropped a 4-3 contest to the St. Louis Cardinals on September 11, 1974, at Shea Stadium after seven hours four minutes, and 25 innings. A game that also tied for the longest game played to a decision in major league history. That game ended at 3:13 AM ET.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


It's finally final! Mets 2, Cards 1 in 20 innings! It's now 11:10 PM. I'll write more tomorrow. Good night.

STILL Mets 0, Cards 0 --in the 18th


Mets 0, Cards 0 going to the 18th inning. And the Cards have shortstop Felippe Lopez (who hit a Grand Slam last night) pitching.

UPDATE: Lopez is now facing the pitcher (Valdez) who gave up the HR last night.

Aerie Report, April 17, 2010

Cold and spitting snow/sleet for much of the day. The temperature never got above 38 degrees.


I didn't go birding the morning, opting instead to give my back a long rest. Fool that I am, I must have twisted incorrectly while throwing some pieces of oak about on Wednesday. As a result, I've got a sharp pain at belt level directly over my left buttocks. Having stenosis of the spine (narrow nerve openings), any time I irritate a nerve and it begins to swell, that nerve gets pinched and swells even more. At least the pain has not started to travel down my leg. That would be BAD. Twisting at the waist seems to be the biggest irritant and I really need to avoid it bit shoveling snow/dirt or tossing cut pieces of firewood.


I hung something like ten of Terry's pictures this morning. I hate making hole in the wall or nailing to the logs, but if it makes her happy.


This afternoon I sat and watched my favorite western of all time: Silverado. Then turned to FOX to watch the Mets vs Cardinals. This was the first time I was able to watch the Mets on TV and they seem to want to give me my money's worth. It is the top of the 14th with the score 0-0. It is 8:40 PM. The game started at 4:10 PM--which was 20 minutes before Silverado ended. Hopefully it will end before time for the first pitch tomorrow at 8 PM. That one's on ESPN.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Aerie Report, April 15, 2010

Another beee-you-ti-ful day here at the Aerie weather wise. As I mentioned earlier it never got as cold as the forecasters predicted it would over night but it sure did warm up nicely this afternoon when the temp got to 73 degrees under a mostly clear sunny sky. Some clouds did move in late but they don't look too threatening. Hopefully there will be some rain tomorrow late into Saturday. We need it badly.


Terry went to the pool again this morning after her Curves workout. She's getting private swim lessons and over half an hour in the pool by herself. Just her, the Mansfield swim coach and a life guard. She says they are focusing on the way she kicks using a boogie board, the butterfly stroke and the sidestroke. Because of the way the pool was roped off, she spent her time in the shallow end swimming from side to side. something like 10 mini-laps. She was tired when she got home but happy as a dolphin in the great blue sea that she's finally improving her swimming ability.


Me? I spent 3 1/2 hours up on the hill today with the chainsaw cutting up two of the tree tops left from last year's logging. One was an oak and the thicker portions will make a little more than half a cord of real fine firewood. The other was a cherry and it too will give me close to half a cord. And those are just two of more than half a dozen tree tops awaiting my sweat equity. I might have worked longer but both the chainsaw and I ran out of gas--literally.

I'm not just cutting firewood. I'm cleaning up the forest. By cutting the tree tops I'm opening up the view for deer and turkey seasons, exposing the ground for possible planting of grasses or other food plot fodder for the wildlife, and making it possible to drive the ATV into spots it has never been before. Call it Phase 1 Forest Rehab.

I may have to take tomorrow off from that particular project, however. Yesterday's work left me with a sore back (left waist area where it's been bad before) as well as a smooshed finger. It hurt throughout the night and woke me at 4 AM. When going back to sleep became impossible, I got up and fed the kittehs. Acetaminophen helps but even that wears off in five or six hours. And after today's workout, it still hurts. Maybe a day or two off is in order so I'll be able to stand upright again.

Besides, Terry wants to hang some more pictures and I promised.... Well, actually, I promised months ago, so it's long overdue.


Baseball. Bah! Humbug! The Mets have played 9 games and they are 3-6. Today they won 5-0 after losing last night 6-5 in 10 innings and losing the night before 11-3. This is not the beginning they were hoping for. It's not time to panic--yet--but they should be checking the life rafts.

On the bright side, The bull pen is actually doing pretty well despite the 10th inning loss and David Wright hit his third home run of the season last night. That's on a pace to hit 54--which I readily admit is unlikely. But 30-40 would be nice. He hit just 10 all last year. Doesn't mean squat if the team doesn't start winning, however.

On a personal note...

My smooshed finger (yeah, that does sound like a cool word) has turned a lovely shade of purple.

Looks like I just got done voting in an Iraqi election.

Challenge "authority"!

Despite the forecast of overnight lows around the freezing mark, it never got below 43.3 degrees at the Aerie and was 41 in Elmira/Corning this AM.

If meteorologists can't get within 10 degrees on the overnight forecast (provided as late as 10 PM), tell me again why we should trust climatologists to accurately forecast 1 degree (F) changes over a century?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Aerie Report, April 14, 2010

The photo club/Audubon meeting last night was well attended and Gary wowed the people in both groups with the pictures he put on display. His work is definitely professional quality...but then it might run in the genes. His brother was a professional wildlife photographer for quite a few years and made a comfortable living at it. I've no doubt that Gary could do the same if that was where his interest lead him, but for now it's just a hobby.

One thing that everyone noticed--and took him to task for--was that he had no self confidence in the quality of the pictures. He kept imagining flaws in photos that anyone in the room--and probably many pros--would have died for.


I spent about four hours with the ATV going up the hill to fetch loads of firewood that I had cut and stacked last summer. It wasn't difficult work but it was hard labor. First, the ATV did its usually thing of acquiring a lot of water in the gas tank over the winter. It was stalling frequently as the water got into the carburetor--which is why I was carrying a plastic cup and a Phillips head screw driver. Every time it stalled, I would open the valve and collect the mix of gas and water that flowed out. When it seemed only gas was coming down the drain tube, I would close the valve and restart the engine. Going up and down the steep hill meant that the gas in the tank got a thorough sloshing about and more water settled into the feed to the carburetor. I think I probably drained a cup of water--and an equal amount of gas--during the four hours I worked.

The lumbermen and then the gas crews have cut some lovely trails through my woods. They made access to the piles of firewood relatively easy--if you ignore the steepness of the slope, the slash that blocks the flattest passages, the erosion from melting snow and the torrential rain we had a couple times in February and March, flat stones standing on end and looking for all the world like shark fins, and the depressions from the long since decayed and rotted root systems of older trees that have themselves long since fallen over and rotted away.

I still need to take the chainsaw to much potential firewood and cluttering slash. The smaller slash can fill some of those great depressions even I was fearful of attempting to drive through. There's plenty of maple, ash and even some hickory on the hillside that I can pretty well drive right up to.

I managed to get all the work done with only one finger getting bashed between a log and the bed of the ATV. I've got nine more but this one (middle finger left hand) has got one very swollen tip that has a faint shade of purple to it. It's also about half again as large as it was this morning. Other than that, it's just sore knees and back from toting wood on a rocky, steep slope.


Oh, and the black flies are here. Annoying as all get out once the temperature got above 50 degrees. But I seem not to have been bitten.


And it was a lovely day to be working outdoors. While it was in the low 30s early this morning, it was clear and sunny with a high around 66 degrees late in the afternoon...just a perfect day. With the dry air and clear skies we should see the temperature fall to near 30 tonight if not lower. Even if it doesn't get below 3 at the Aerie, it might well get into the 20s in the valley. Cold air sinks and there's no breeze to speak of to stir things up.

Speaking of dry. Since the little bit of rain/snow we had on April 1st, we really haven't had any precipitation at all. As a result, the woods are like a tinder box. Only where there are springs rising out of the ground is there any moisture. Leaves, duff, twig litter are all tinder dry and ready for a spark to set them ablaze.

And there have been lots of wildfires in Potter County just to our west. Luckily there have been none nearer as far as I know.

Perhaps the tree huggers are right!

We must stop cutting down trees! This is getting very serious!

What the hey?

So the last couple of days I've gotten two or three comments posted by "Anonymous" that are identical to this one:
The world each makes the assumption that the airing of an typographical error is comparable with the discovery of actually - that the fluff and truth are simply opposite. They are nothing of the sort. What the world turns to, when it is cured on a particular boob, is usually fully another fault, and possibly one worse than the triumph one.

Except for a typo I made in the title of the post, this monstrosity is irrelevant and nonsensical. If not for comment moderation, I would have had to go into edit the post and remove this.

I don't mind if someone is posting anonymously IF they are on topic. I mean, Anonymous has written some of the best stuff out there. Just check any large volume quote compilation and you'll see what I mean. But this...What the heck does it mean? It reads like a machine translation...a bad machine translation at that. Notice, unlike the crap that promotes drugs or porn, there is no link. So what the heck is the point of posting comments like this?

I'm assuming there's a bot behind this in some nefarious evil spam commenter's basement server hard at work generating these things. No one would be stupid--or bored--enough to be doing them individually.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Freakin' Amazing!

If you haven't been over to Maggie's Farm and seen this post: Kid with a model airplane...Well, shame on you! Get over there and watch the video! NOW!

Aerie Report, April 12, 2010

A gorgeous day at the Aerie. It started out quite chilly with the morning temp in the mid 30s but warmed up nicely to 64 degrees under sunny skies and with a very slight breeze out of the northeast, of all directions. It will get colder tonight as the skies remain clear and the breeze has increased in velocity. I expect to see some frost on the ground in the AM.


Terry has been working o cleaning out the freezer in preparations for our summer sojourn. As a result she baked a blackberry pie yesterday and today roasted a turkey breast that, if it were a human child, could have walked to the oven on its own. Still, it was nice and moist and delicious with stuffing, gravy, acorn squash and nibblet corn. And the sandwiches we had for our evening meal were doubly good on still-warm-from-the-baker's-oven hard rolls she picked up this morning. Tomorrow she'll use the stock from the ribs and back to make soup and the leftover white meat will go into enchiladas.


Time to get the ATV out to haul some of the cut firewood down the hill. I left lengths stacked in place to age over the winter. I'll bring them down and split and stack them for next winter. Then cut and clear more from the tree tops left on the hillside by the loggers. Some of those tree tops are on pretty steep slopes and will take some careful planning before I can get anything out of them.

In preparation for using the ATV, I had the battery on the charger for much of the day. There was still some juice in it from last fall, but I want to play it safe and make sure there's enough to start the engine several times in succession. (There's likely some water condensation in the tank--there always is after a long lay over--and that will cause stalling until I drain it all out.) I did manage to get the engine to turn over and run for a brief period this afternoon before shutting it down.


Mr. Bruin returned this evening. I just heard some noise on the deck and, thinking it was the raccoon, I grabbed the flashlight. Nothing in the front so I went to check the side by the sliding door. And there was a big, black butt slowly going down the stairs. He's quite a bit bigger than last year. Looked to be between 250 and 300 pounds. Probably got disappointed by the lack of food on either the deck or the side of the house (where he destroyed the feeders two weeks ago when I was up north). He certainly gave me a dirty look over his shoulder as he meandered about the yard, stopped several times to look at my light (broadside at 15 yards) and then ambled off down the trail.


Tomorrow morning Terry goes to the University pool for an "evaluation" of her swimming skills. While she's out, I'll get the ATV running and possibly move it under the deck. Then, in the afternoon we get delivery of two new recliners and get the love seat out of the loft area and into the garage. And, in the evening, we go to a combined photography and Audubon meeting to hear Gary talk about taking pictures of birds.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

There and back again.

Well, I'm back. Driving the Jeep Compass is a real joy. Five-speed manual on that six-cylinder engine and the darn thing just flies!

I did manage to leave the Aerie at 4:30 AM as planned but then had to return because I left the cabin keys in the Tundra...DOH!

My SECOND departure took place at 5 AM and I arrived at the Bolt Hole at 8:30 AM with one pit stop on the NYSThruway.

Mark was still at his cabin. I flipped him the bird because it was 45 freakin' degrees at 8:30! I gave him what-for for putting the fear of frozen pipes into my head, but he said it was truly 24 degrees yesterday morning. The recording digital thermometer in the Bolt Hole's kitchen says it did get down to 29 degrees outside sometime since I was there last but not 24. It also says that the lowest it got inside during my absence was 39 degrees.

Really, I do not know why I put any credence in the forecasts from either or AccuHunch. Both said it was supposed to be closer to 25 degrees than 50.

I spent 15 minutes talking with Mark. It took me all of 15 minutes to drain the pipes and pour some antifreeze into the traps...just in case the weathermen manage to pull one out of their butts and it does get below freezing during the next week.

Add another 15 minutes to walk around the exterior of the cabin, barn and garage to check things out, and another 15 to fill the gas tank (10+ gallons at $3 per) and pick up a buttered hard roll for brunch, plus the pit stop on the way up, and I had, perhaps, an hour and a quarter non-driving time on a 9 1/4 hour trip that covered 475 miles.

Terry thinks I need a pilot's license. I told her it would be revoked for flying too low.

Anyhow. I now have some peace of mind. Better safe than sorry. Yada, yada, yada...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

On the road again....

Off on a quick trip to the Bolt Hole tomorrow. This cold weather has me worried that the unheated cabin might get too cold for the water I left in the pipes. So...It'll be 225 miles up, drain the pipes, and 225 miles back home. What fun!

I'd rather not go since I'll have to do it again in a couple days once they get the part to fix the AC on the trailer, but, I'd like to keep the plumbing intact, thank you!

Just as we were getting out of the cars to start our bird walk this morning I got a call from Mark telling me it was a mere 24 degrees at the Bolt Hole this morning. He wanted to know if he should start a fire in the cabin before he left today. Hell yeah! I should have told him to drain the pipes too, but that might have taken longer to explain where all the low valves were than it was worth.

I would have left to go up this afternoon and slept over, but all that fresh air and sunshine this morning at Hills Creek SP had me feeling a bit sleepy as it was. With Mark's fire and the abundant afternoon sunshine (and the lack of leaves on the trees) the cabin should have been able to store enough heat to make it through the night. It's the next four nights of lows in the 20s and days when the highs will only be in the 40s and 50s that worry me.

So, I'll b setting the alarm for 4 AM and hope to be out and on my way by 4:30. I'll be taking the Jeep this time since A) it was gassed up and nearly full and B) it gets better mpgs than the Tundra and C) I'll not be hauling anything either way.

Birding at HIlls Creek State Park

A small group of regulars (none of which were park visitors) attended today's bird walk. There were a few nice sightings including a juvenile Bald Eagle and two adults. Only a few ducks on the water which was nearly white-capped by the wind. The migrant songbirds haven't come through yet as witnessed by the total lack of small birds on our list, but the swallows were all over the surface of the lake as they skimmed the air for emerging insects.

Location: Hills Creek SP
Observation date: 4/10/10
Notes: Very, very windy and quite cold. Just 35 degrees when we started with winds out of the north-northwest. Clear and sunny, however. Got all the way up to 44 by 11:30! (Felt much colder.)
Number of species: 19

Canada Goose X
Wood Duck X
Mallard X
Lesser Scaup X
Bufflehead X
Hooded Merganser X
Double-crested Cormorant X
Great Blue Heron X
Bald Eagle X
Killdeer X
Spotted Sandpiper X
American Crow X
Tree Swallow X
Black-capped Chickadee X
Eastern Bluebird X
American Robin X
Song Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Friday, April 09, 2010

Hey! Who turned the thermostat down?

We didn't just take a step back into spring time today. We leaped completely back into winter! It was 38 degrees when the cats got us up this morning. (The birds, who had taken over the wake-up chores the last few days, slept in--probably beneath a down comforter.) The sky remained overcast all day and the wind kept blowing 15-25 mph out of the northwest. The result was a "high" of just 40 degrees, not the forecast 50, and a totally raw feeling throughout the day. We haven't turned the heat back on because the living quarters are a comfortable 61 degrees--just about where they are during the winter. We may have to turn the heat up in the bedroom, however. The windows there were left open throughout the morning and it got down to 52 degrees before we thought to shut them. At 9:45 PM it is 31 degrees.


Tomorrow morning is our first bird walk at Hills Creek State Park. It's gonna be a cold one!


Wrote the check for Uncle Sam today. It will be in the mail tomorrow. a single stamp will not carry all the enclosed paper to the government and additional postage will be necessary. The return for PA cost us 61 cents to mail and this one will be about the same.

I happened to see this at the Tax Profs Blog: Today Is Tax Freedom Day -- Earlier in AK, LA & MS, Later in CT, NJ, NY. Pennsylvania is ranked #11 (which is not good but still better than #1 Conn or #2 NJ) and or actual tax freedom day will not be until next Tuesday, April 13th. (You can find out where your state ranks by looking at the Tax Foundation site: here. The folks in Alaska celebrated their Tax Freedom Day on March 26th--the first in the country to do so.


We went down to Holy Child for dinner tonight. They were having chicken and biscuits and it was good. The church has a monthly fundraising dinner and it is usually excellent. Even if the meal is more like Mom's than restaurant quality, the homemade desserts are well worth the stop. Besides, the dinner conversations are yet another part of the underground news network of small town, rural America.

There was one guy and his wife, for instance: his truck plate is YUKON KID and she's Aleut. Mention that we were going to Alaska and she chimed in with how she'll be flying to Fairbanks on June 22 and then taking a puddle jumper into the bush to go visit family.

Another couple lives just down the hill. She was a former teacher in Maryland and they both retired here. They had been to an Audubon meeting last year (something I had to remind them of) curious about some of the birds in their yard. (They never followed up with our offer to come and see what they had on their land.) We commiserated about the truck traffic associated with the wind farm and gas drilling for a bit. They have a neighbor who will have a well drilled on his property and we think the same may happen near us if the 3-D seismic studies show it is warranted.


After dinner we stopped at the new Tractor Supply store to pick up some cat food and were sorely tested by the baby chicks and ducks they had for sale. Since we will be gone for nearly two months this summer, that temptation passed swiftly.

Since Beiter's Home Furnishings is right next store, we went to see what they had in the way of living room furniture. The stuff we have is coming up on 25 years old and is starting to show its age. They didn't have anything we liked but they did have a 2-for-1 sale on recliners and they did have a couple that we did like there. So, come Tuesday, the love seat in the loft--the one I sit on throughout the football season--will be replaced by two very comfortable reclining chairs. (And, some how, I'll get the delivery guys to haul the love seat down to the garage.)

Somebody's got to keep the American economy rolling!

Aerie Birds

Just a couple of the visitors to the feeders on the deck the last few days.

First, the dapper little Chipping Sparrow. One of the smallest of the sparrows, this little guy certainly looks sharp with his rust little cap and clean, light gray breast.

Chipping Sparrow

The male Goldfinches are shedding their plain winter coats for their bright yellow and black for the summer. Most are not quite done with the switch and appear a little raggedy at the moment. Others are almost done and offer a welcome daffodil yellow to the feeding flocks.

American Goldfinch

Purple Finches have shown up in numbers this past week. They seem to be in full breeding plumage...including the spiked, bright red, punk hair-do.

Purple Finch

Even the birds that were around all winter like the Dark-eyed Junco have a crisp new appearance about them.

Dark-eyed Junco

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Speaking of getting wet

We're located in Mainesburg. Just look in the middle of that long yellow and red line running north to south.

Not much of a choice here.

Nice boat!

(Shamelessly stolen from Theo.)

Aerie Report, April 8, 2010

Spring arrivals continue to...well...arrive. Chipping Sparrow on the deck today along with lots of Purple Finches and a Rufous-sided Towhee on the ground beneath the deck where I've been spilling the seeds in the evening to keep the raccoon off the deck. I've seen the Chipper for a few days but this was the first Towhee to show up at the Aerie this year.


Terry and I spent some time cleaning up the gardens today. I picked out as many of the dead strawberry leaves as I could and pulled weeds while I was at it. She plucked and pruned the perennials along the driveway and tossed stones that had gotten into the beds from snow shoveling/blowing. Everything looks nice and neat now. Most of the plants in the driveway beds look to have survived the winter and are starting to send out new growth. The daffodil bulbs are also sending up shoots...some even have stalks with flower buds on them.

Meanwhile, up on the hillside, the crocuses, hyacinths and daffodils are all coming up and flowering. Some wild pansies are also flowering in the lawn at the base of the deck steps. The shadbush trees have been in flower down in the valley for a few days and today I noticed one of our trees along the power line right of way has burst into bloom. Another will open in a day or two. Those white blossoms are a treat in the spring.


Today was a gorgeous day with lots of sunshine and temperatures in the mid 70s, but that is about to change. There's a cold front coming through and, like many cold fronts in the summer (and it has been like summer lately) there are thunderstorms embedded along the front. There have already been a few distant rumbles and Julie and Shadow are looking for places to hide. This front will bring more seasonable temperatures which should mean we'll be around 50 for a high tomorrow. Hey, it IS spring!


Got a confirmation email from the Good Sam Club today. We are on for the Alaskan Caraventure that starts in Dawson Creek, BC on June 22. (They had to cancel the second trip that would have started two weeks later due to lack of participants.) Terry made a follow-up call today when we hadn't heard anything since last Wednesday's phone call. The gal at Good Sam said the dog ate their computer or something to that effect.

Still no word on the trailer yet.


Terry got a phone call from the Mansfield University swimming coach this afternoon. She had mentioned to the owner of the Black Swan Cafe that she was interested in getting some swimming lessons but the Univeristy only offered them to kids and not adults. Well, the Black Swan owner has a membership at the pool (just $200 per year) and goes over there every afternoon for a dip. She took Terry's name and phone number and passed it along to the folks at the pool. The coach, who really wants to justify the $$$ spent on the pool, agreed there should probably be something for adults but until there is...hey, why don't you come down and we'll evaluate your ability and provide some free lessons. So Terry has an appointment(!) with a private swimming instructor for Tuesday of next week.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Aerie Report, April 7, 2010

It stayed quite warm overnight with the low only being around 68 degrees. Today's high was 82 and it is still in the 70s at 10 PM. What the hell happened to spring? We seem to have gone from winter to summer with just a passing glance at the usual spring weather.

They (the usual suspects at AccuHunch and do say there's a chance of spring squeezing in another week starting Saturday. We'll see.


Got an email from my son the other day. Seems he's been bitten (or perhaps I should say "stung") by the beekeeping bug. Although he and Sandy live in apartment in Portland, Oregon, he's managed to "borrow" a friend's backyard and put in a hive. His bees arrived on Tuesday so he had to install them in their new home. He posted some pictures on Facebook but before I could view them, I had to register. (And if I didn't "have to register" it's too late for you to tell me otherwise, I'm in under my real name. I feel so exposed!)

Any way...He says things went well and that he only got stung twice. On the arms because he had only a thin flannel shirt on and the little buggers stung right through the sleeve.


Terry and I went to the optometrist this afternoon to have our eyes examined and see if we needed new specs. Eyes are fine. No changes in our prescriptions so we had no need for new glasses. Which is good as it saves a bundle. (Our insurance covers the exams, not the hardware.)


Terry finished our taxes and because of the gas lease we owe both the state and the feds some money this year. Unlike some in the county, we set aside all our lease money for the future with fully one third of it designated for tax purposes. We won't be sending all of that to The Man, but close to it. What's left over from that 1/3 will be going toward the preparations for our Alaskan Adventure. It will pay for the truck cap that's on order.

Making the arrangements for the transfer of funds at the bank today we heard that several folks didn't plan so wisely and spent all they got from the leases forgetting that the piper had to be paid eventually. They will be taking a big hit for their spendthrift ways.

PA gets its check in the mail tomorrow (Thursday). Uncle Sam will have to wait just a little longer just because.


Still waiting on word from the Alpin Haus as to the trailer. Could be...should be...any day now. Depends upon how long it takes to get the part they needed for the AC. I'm assuming (as I said before) that the furnace and electrical light problem were fixed as the gal that called had no news on either and, as they say, no news is good news. My overnight bag is packed and I've nothing to keep me from heading north on a moment's notice.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hang on tight!

Wow! A whole lot of shakin' and rumblin' going on...again.

Two evenings ago it was a 7.2 mag earthquake on the southern end of the San Andres Fault right where it crosses California/Mexico border and just north of the Gulf of California.

Then this morning I saw reports that Mt. Redoubt is starting to shake like a bowl full of jelly and there's a possibility of an eruption.

And this evening there was a 7.7 mag earthquake off the northwest coast of Sumatra.

Aerie AM Report, April 6, 2010

We had a wave of showers and thunderstorms sweep trough the area this morning between 5 and 8 AM but they have now cleared our region and any other rain will be to our north so it looks like another gorgeous day is heading our way. The temperature should rise into the 70s again this afternoon as the winds come out of the southwest but we'll get back to more seasonal 50s and 60s this weekend.

I'd start planting some lettuce, spinach and the onions if it weren't for the knowledge that it's still too damn early and frosts might still be on their way. At least that four letter word that starts with an "s" has disappeared from the long range forecasts.


Got some good news out from Milwaukee way Sunday. Our nephew Brian finally got around to popping the question to his sweetie, Vicky, on Easter Sunday. They've been living together for several years and we all figured it was a matter of time. No word as to the size of the clue bat she had to hit him over the head with but it must have been a doozy.

With relatives all over the country this will be a "destination" wedding for nearly all regardless of where they decide to have it. His parents are in Half Moon Bay, California. Grandma is in New Jersey. Paternal aunts are in Kansas. Cousins are in Portland, Oregon, New Jersey, etc. Her parents are in Tempe, Arizona. And, of course, we are in Pennsylvania.

The two of them were impressed with the way Rick and Sandy managed their affair last spring--small and select without a large hall or band/DJ so I expect that might be in the cards. They also haven't set a date yet. We reminded them of our plans and begged that they try for something that might fit our travel itinerary.

Have trailer will travel.

Sounds like life to me!

Opening Day

Major league baseball is in full swing once again and, as happens nearly every year, fans are sure that their team will finish the year in the playoffs if not the World Series...with the possible exception of Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh. Of course, half the teams lost their opening games. (Baltimore and Tampa Bay are yet to play.)

I was quite satisfied with the Red Sox come from behind 9-7 victory over the Yankees on Sunday night even though I turned the set off in the fifth inning when the Yanks were ahead 5-1.

I was even more pleased to see the Mets defeat the Marlins 7-1 on Monday afternoon. Especially since they were sans their regular first baseman, center fielder and shortstop. That David Wright hit a home run in the first inning was super sweet icing on the cake. Let's hope he has a more typical 30 home run year than last year's measly 10 HRs. The Mets have an amazing opening day record. (For example: they have now won 5 consecutive openers.) It's too bad they have to play the next the toughest division in baseball.

So, the long season is under way and it's still anybody's game.

Is there a Doctor in the multiverse?

Oh, yeah! And he's battier--and as effective--as ever.

And his companion? She's HOT!

And Theo has a post of the first episode HERE!

Go and take a look.

You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Casual Birding around the Aerie

Purple Finch on the deck stick feeder.

Purple Finch on the deck stick feeder.

Whilst hanging about the Aerie today I took mental note of the birds that happened to wander into sight and hearing. These are just casual observations made while sitting in the living room or out on the deck. I made no effort to wander about the property or seek any birds out. I certainly made no attempt to count the number of individuals.

Location: Aerie
Observation date: 4/4/10
Notes: These birds were either seen or heard from the deck of The Aerie between 7 AM and 7:30 PM today.
Number of species: 19

Canada Goose X
Wild Turkey X
Turkey Vulture X
American Woodcock X
Mourning Dove X
Barred Owl X
Downy Woodpecker X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Common Raven X
Black-capped Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse X
White-breasted Nuthatch X
Song Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
Purple Finch X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Some birds, like the Canada Geese, Barred Owl, American Woodcock and Wild Turkey were only heard and not seen. Others like the Turkey Vulture, Common Raven and American Crow were strictly fly-bys. The rest came to the feeders or were seen in the yard from the deck.

I've curtailed my feeding regimen since the black bear destroyed several feeders last week, so nineteen species is quite a respectable number considering there are many more that have yet to migrate back to their home here on the hillside.

I'm still waiting on the return of the thrushes, Phoebes, Indigo Bunting, warblers and Carolina Wrens. And, surprisingly, the hawks that frequently soar along the hillside just haven't been around the last few days--or I just missed them.

What am I doin'? Nothin'!

Doing nothing is hard to do  I never know when I
moar funny pictures

Hope you all had a Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Tomorrow the Major League Baseball season gets underway once more with the Boston Red Sox hosting the New York Yankees at 8:05 PM EST on ESPN. Pitching for the Sox will be Josh Beckett and for the Yanks C.C. Sabathia. I don't love either team but truly loathe the Yanks and so I may find myself parked in front of the tube to root for Beckett and the Sox.

But Monday! Aaaah, Monday we have the Mets and Johan Santana hosting the Marlins and Josh Johnson in the new CITI Field at 1:10 PM.

National League, baby! No stupid DH rule. Managers have to make real decisions! And (even though they are all too often automatic outs) pitchers have to hit!
(Where, I ask you, would Babe Ruth have been if he did not have to hit as well as pitch?--Okay, he played the outfield between starts for Boston too. BECAUSE HE WAS A HELL OF A HITTER!---And, even if he had never hit a home run he probably would have still made the Hall of Fame because of his pitching. He was, indeed, THAT good!)

I have no idea how my Mets will play this year. Their pitching is a question mark beyond Santana and closer Fernandez--and even Santana is a cipher because of off season surgery. They start the year without their star shortstop. (Reyes was physically able until a thyroid problem laid him low. He's okay now and should be back in the game in a week or so.) Their star center fielder is still recovering from surgery to his knees. Carlos Beltran was originally said to return around June 1 but it now seems he may be back a few weeks sooner. Their starting first baseman injured his knee last week and will start the season on the IR.

In short, they may be further out of first place by the first week in July than I will be from either the Aerie or the Bolt Hole. (Alaska trip, remember?)

Still, I'll root for them and follow their progress (or lack thereof) throughout the season. Oh, I'll bitch and moan and complain too. That's what being a fan is all about.

And it all starts tomorrow.

A day birding is never wasted.

It was too nice a day to stay indoors and the appearance of a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds in the company of a male Red-winged Blackbird on the deck feeder this morning made me antsy, so I went and made the rounds of birding spots on Route 287. None of the spots produced the huge numbers of new (at least for this year) species I was hoping for. Obviously the birds clock is more connected to daylight than temperature for it got up to the mid 70s this afternoon.

My first stop was at the lookout over the Tioga-Hammond Lakes connector where I hoped to find some Bald Eagles soaring overhead. No such luck but there were lots of Turkey Vultures and Tree Swallows taking advantage of the updrafts. Plus I got to see my first Northern Flicker and Eastern Phoebe of the year.
Turkey Vulture
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Tufted Titmouse
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Tree Swallow rests on the fence at the Tioga-Hammond Lake overlook.

From the overlook, I drove to the other end of Hammond Lake to Ive's Run and took the Rail Road Grade Trail that parallels Crooked Creek west. On the way to Ive's Run an Osprey flew over the road carrying a 7-8" fish in its talons. It would be the first of seven Ospreys I would spot. The others were all paired up on the nesting platforms probably discussing how to arrange the furniture.

I birded the length of the Rail Road Grade Trail from my truck and it was pretty slow. Neither numbers of species nor of individuals were very high.
Wild Turkey
Mourning Dove
Blue Jay
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle

Pair of Ospreys on nest pole near the Ive's Run Offices

After completing the slow drive along Crooked Creek, I went back to Ive's Run and the Day Use Area across from the camp store (closed). Still pretty slow and only the half dozen Double-crested Cormorants perched on some exposed logs w-a-y o-u-t there made the short trip worthwhile. Not an Eagle to be seen. I did talk to a couple of fishermen who were working the shoreline from their boat, however. They were having slow day, too.
Canada Goose
Double-crested Cormorant
Ring-billed Gull
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
Song Sparrow

I then went down to The Muck to see if there were any waterfowl on the open water. Except for the one pair of Blue-winged Teal and a number of Canada Geese, that would be a "No." As in no Wood Duck--yet, no herons visible, no Kingfisher--yet. Like I said a very slow day.
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
American Crow
Tree Swallow
American Robin
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird

Canada Goose stand atop a nest in the reeds.

Canada Goose swimming at The Muck.