Sunday, July 31, 2011

Painting progresses

Okay, about that "Up On The Roof'" falsehood: the Amish crew didn't show up with their paint brushes and ladders either (then again, it was Sunday) so I had to go back out and do it myself!

I managed to finish the upstairs bedroom (west side), the north side of the kitchen, AND the wood shed roof before 1:30 PM. I called it quits at that time because I could. Hey! I'm not only the work crew, I'm the boss, too! I can do what every I please when it pleases me. Got that? (Besides, IF it should rain this evening, I want the roof coating to have some time to cure before the water hits it. says maybe. AccuHunch says possible. Both say it WILL most likely rain tomorrow afternoon. (75% chance according to the crew at AH.)

Here's today's progress:

First the upstairs bedroom on the west side. I got part of this yesterday but managed to reach the center panels today and finished it off.

A reminder of what it looked like before painting.

Before: West side of upstairs bedroom.

And here's what it looks like with a fresh coat.

After: West side of upstairs bedroom.

The north side of the kitchen roof and the wood shed roof were also on my list for today.

Here's those roofs before painting.

Before: North side of kitchen and wood shed.

And after.

After: North side of kitchen and wood shed.

The little maple sapling had to come down--again. The wood shed roof took just an hour to do after lunch. I could stand up and use the long handled brush on it. Not climbing or concern about slopes on that baby!

Waiting on the dew.

Doggone it! These north country birds are worse than Chester! Three freakin' thirty and they are making a racket. The bloody sun isn't even hinting at coming over the horizon and they're singing their hearts out. Mating season was weeks ago fella's! If you've not met a lady yet, it's probably too late so give it a rest, will ya!

And they're not just loud, either, but very, very annoying and repetitive. The kind of noise you can not ignore. I know, I tried. Finally gave up at 5 AM and got up, had breakfast, drank some coffee, took some pain pills did some stretching of aching back, knees and hips. Then sat and waited.

Just waiting on the dew on the roof to evaporate so I can get to work. Checking the forecast, there's a 30% chance of showers late tonight. Now, the instructions on the roof coating says not to apply if there will be rain in the next 36 hours, but 30% sounds like a good bet to me.

I want to at least finish the upstairs bedroom roof, the north half of the kitchen and the wood shed roof today. Then, Monday, I'll see about tackling the living room roof. That one is quite long and steep with a sizable (10'?) eave. Could be a challenge with the ladders I have and may have to wait until I can get an extension ladder up here.

You'll notice I've not mentioned the south side of the kitchen. Frankly, that's the one that scares me most. It's steep and the drop off seems worse because there's a slight slope off the porch that makes it seem further than it really is. Plus there's a gutter system on the eave that is, shall we say, iffy. I was going to leave it until last, but if my ladders can't be used on the living room section, then the south kitchen may be Monday's target.

Filed Under: Things learned on the roof

You know that song "Up On The Roof" by the Drifters? Yeah, this one:

Well, I'm here to report that the line: "...where you just have to wish to make it so..." is a falsehood.

I spent all day yesterday up on the roof and not once did a bikini-clad lass show up with an ice cold beer.

Maybe if I had spent my time "Under the Boardwalk"....

At least then the top of my head and backs of my ears would not have gotten burned.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My day at the Bolt Hole

As I mentioned in the previous post, today was the day I was to get up on the roof and paint the rusty, rusty metal roof. (Or at least part of it.) And that's just what I did.

Like many an old home that has undergone periodical improvements, the Bolt Hole has a complex and troubling roof line. There are roofs for the kitchen, the upstairs bedroom, the living room, the kids' bedroom, the screened porch and the wood shed. Some may have ridge beams that run in the same direction--but they are NOT at the same elevation. Others have ridge beams that are perpendicular to their neighboring roof. Even these, however, do not meet at the same elevation. Finally, there are two (the woodshed and the screened porch) that slope in the same direction as their adjacent roof but at a different pitch and, in the case of the screened porch, at a different elevation.

Only the roof over the kids' bedroom will escape. I replaced that about 6 years ago and it's got a bright red roof now. So that leaves the living room roof (second newest but very rusty), the upstairs bedroom, the screened porch, kitchen and wood shed to paint.

The screened porch and the wood shed roofs are my favorites. They have pitches that are approximately 3:12 and 4:12. (That's the number of inches they rise over a horizontal foot.) They are nearly flat compared to the roofs that are closer to 10:12 or 12:12.

My favorite steep roof is the one over the east half of the upstairs bedroom. It's close to a 12:12 pitch but the eave is just two feet above the screened porch's 3:12 roof. Slip and slide on the bedroom section and I'd end up on the screened porch with an excellent chance of stopping. (The back half of the kitchen--also a 12:12 roof--ends up on the woodshed roof at the same elevation. This is the one that Mark used as a ski jump one winter. 'Nough said.)

So today, I thought I would do the east side of the upstairs bedroom, the screened porch, and the west side of the upstairs bedroom if time permitted.

Here's a picture showing what the east side of the upstairs bedroom looked like before I got to work. (the screened porch is just below the eave of the bedroom roof but, because of the angle, doesn't show up to well.)

Before: East side of upstairs bedroom & screened porch.

Notice the roof ladder hooked over the ridge on the lefts of the chimney. Very useful that IF the over hang at the eave end allows it to be used.

Here's those same roofs after they got painted.

After: East side of upstairs bedroom & screened porch.

Having finished the east side, I moved over to the west. Here's the north end of the west side of that bedroom roof. The kitchen roof on the right forms a T with the bedroom roof about half way up the slope. And, if you look carefully in the lower right, you can see the change in pitch between the kitchen roof and the wood shed roof.

Before: North end of west side of the upstairs bedroom,
the kitchen and wood shed roofs.

And after I quit for the day due to knee, back and muscle aches; dehydration (actually, THAT was not a problem--3 Gator Ades, and equal number of liter bottles of water and temperatures "only" in the upper 70s helped) and fatigue, here's what had been done on the west:

North end of the west side of the upstairs bedroom roof.

South end of the west side of the upstairs bedroom roof.

Access to the middle of this west side of the roof is hampered by the length of the roof ladder. It's too long and doesn't latch over the ridge when bumping into the kitchen roof. The problem is trying to walk that steep roof with a five gallon pail of aluminum, fiber impregnated, paint in one hand and the need for a sky hook on your mind.

Incidentally I've been saying "paint" when in fact this is more a roof coating--sort of like a silver colored tar with fibers mixed in. It will seal small cracks but can be applied with a masons brush or a roller. With the little ridges on the crimped roofing, I chose a hand held brush for most of my application. A few times, when things got a little too distant for comfort, I used a brush on a long handle to r-e-a-c-h out there and get the edges.

This coating is kinda weird in that it is a bronze-gold color in the can but as soon as it hits the roof and starts to dry/age/oxidize it turns a brilliant silver. During the day, I splashed so much on my pants and boots, I thought I was the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. As my knees, back and muscles started to ache I could have used an oil can. And as I continued to push myself, I could have used his heart.

Tomorrow I need to get those center panels and then the north side of the kitchen roof as well as the wood shed.

Roof work

The rain stopped late last night and everything remains quite wet. The sun is rising, however, and it won't be long before the roof is dry enough for me to climb up and start brushing and blowing the loose rust off in preparation of a coat of paint.

Both and AccuHunch agree that Saturday and Sunday are going to be lovely days with mostly sunny skies and highs in the low 80s. Monday, however, has a 40% chance of T-storms.

I'll post some "Before" pictures later. Hopefully followed by some "After" shots.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Aerie Report, July 28, 2011

I was laying on the couch late this afternoon wondering why I felt so tired. I mean besides getting to sleep after midnight last night and getting awakened by Chester just before 0600 this morning. And making three trips in to town. Then it hit me: I cut the grass this morning! Sheesh! How could I forget an hour and a half with the mower?


Traveling around on Monday and Tuesday I noticed a shimmy in the front end of the Tundra whenever I applied my brakes. Yesterday, on our way to Binghamton, I stopped at the dealers to see if I could get the vehicle in to get looked at. Tuesday at 2 PM was the earliest slot he had, so I took it. As soon as we left the dealership, the dang shimmy stopped! All the way to Binghamton and back to the Aerie: No shimmy! Today I purposefully made three trips down the hill and on two of the three I detected no shimmy when I applied my brakes. I came t-h-i-s close to calling and cancelling my appointment.

I'm going up to the Bolt Hole tomorrow using the Tundra to haul some materials to paint the roof. I was going to haul the ATV up on the trailer, but until I'm sure about the cause of the shimmy, that's will have to wait. I will get some work done on the roof--once the forecast rains of Friday end.

Accuhunch says there could be 1.5 plus inches of rain around the Bolt Hole Friday and Friday night. Then again, they said we would see mostly sunny skies at the Aerie today and only scattered showers. We got the scattered showers, but never saw the sun. As a result, the forecast 82 degrees didn't happen and we maxed out at a very pleasant 72.

Back to the painting.... The metal roof up there is really in need of a coat of silver paint with some fiber in it. This should keep it cooler in the summer, water proof what few small leaks there may be, and allow the snow to slide off more easily. At least that's my hope. If a few hundred dollars in paint and some elbow grease will help the roof last a few more years, well, that's okay too. (I got some patching tar and ringed, washered screws to fill old nail holes as well.) The problem with the painting is you can't do it if it's too cold, too hot, too wet, or if it's going to rain within 24-35 hours. I figure, IF I can believe AccuHunch, that I've got Saturday afternoon and Sunday to get something accomplished. Scattered T-storms are forecast for Monday night but the chances are slim. If the forecast changes I'll do more painting on Monday. If the chance of rain increases, I'll go cut some more firewood. I'm flexible that way.


I'll drive back on Tuesday for the Tundra's checkup and stay the night at the Aerie. Then Wednesday, IF the Tundra gets the okay, I'll haul the ATV up so I can get the firewood out of the woods. With a long range forecast showing no rain until August 6, I might even get more painting in on Thursday and Friday (August 4 & 5).

Take me out to the ball game!

Went to a ball game last night over in Binghamton, NY. The Mets' AA farm team (the B-Mets) were playing the Red Sox affiliate Portland, ME Sea Dogs. Terry got tickets because one of her EGA (Embroiderer's Guild of America) contacts who owns a shop called Stitchery Row was a sponsor. For $6 each we got seats behind home plate, a hot dog and a small soda. Since the program included not just the game but a post-game fireworks show, that was a pretty good deal even for a two hour drive.

The gal from Stitchery Row had a table set up and we stopped by to chat. Terry had emailed a particular need and she picked it up and paid for it while we chatted. There were a few pieces of needlework on display as well as some magazines. Anyone interested could also get information about EGA and its activities.

Two of the pieces on display:

The ballpark is a simple affair, as to be expected for AA ball, but quite nice. The B-Mets are celebrating their 20th year in Binghamton--for which I have mixed feelings. Their previous home park was in Utica, NY just 25 miles from the Bolt Hole and I would have attended lots more games if they had stayed there. Alas, they moved a few years after I bought the Bolt Hole and before I actually had the time to attend those games.

As far as last night's game goes...well, it could have gone better. The B-Mets lost 5-2 after falling behind 5-0. The play was a bit spotty at times, but that is to be expected in AA ball where players are often still learning the game. I thought a few fly balls that were allowed to drop should have been caught. The pitchers for the B-Mets gave up two home runs and allowed another run to score on a wild pitch. The B-Mets' second baseman threw one ball way out of the reach of the first baseman on a sure out. (He may have had too much time to think about that one.)

And the Sea Dogs were not faultless either. They ran themselves out of more scoring when, with men on first and second, the hitter lashed a single to left only to run up the rear of the runner ahead of him. He was caught in a run down between first and second and eventually tagged out for the third out of the inning. (He wasn't helped by the slow poke in front who stood on second but should have made a break for third once the run down started.)

Still, it was good to get out and watch a game. Weird though, as Terry mentioned, not to have a play-by-play commentary going on. Forces you to really pay attention.

Top of the 5th and the Sea Dogs lead 5-0. Seats were pretty good!

There were 20-24 folks there as part of the Sit-and-Stitch promotion and Stitchery Row's owner welcomed them all. She even had little goody bags for most of the women who did, indeed sit and stitch, or knit, or crochet during the entire game. Only one other husband was in attendance (besides the Stitchery Row's husband, that is). A retired Navy Chief, he seemed to be enjoying the game. Certainly, he got the attention of one of the B-Mets mascots, Ballwinkle.

Ballwinkle makes the rounds.

Ballwinkle and kids of all ages.

I've no idea who the little kid is in this photo, but the guy to the left of Ballwinkle is the retired Navy man. The women seen here are part of the Sit-and-Stitch contingent. Terry would be right behind Ballwinkle and my seat was #22 visible in the upper right.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Aerie Report, July 26, 2011

It was a (mostly) clear night last night so the temperatures plummeted to a glorious 58 degrees early this morning. I say "mostly" because we did get a few brief showers that brought our rainfall total for Monday-Monday night to 0.2 inches. That's not much in the grand scheme of things but it was much needed. After a little morning cloudiness the skies cleared and the temperatures rose again but only to a high of 84 late in the afternoon. The steady breeze that blew from the north-northwest made it feel cooler even in the sun. We opened all the windows and doors to let that breeze in and the house cooled off nicely. With the sky still clear, I'm looking forward to another cool night and lovely day Wednesday.


Terry heard on the TV news that the closing of the post office is not a done deal. They're on a "study" list and several things need to be considered before the final cut is made. I hope they consider the fact that there are no bloody stores within 8 miles of the current PO to serve as their "Village Post Office!" Our part time post mistress also says they've been doing a booming business out of our little PO since the gas drilling started, too.


Early tomorrow the Tiadaghton Audubon Society will be performing it's annual cleanup at the bird observation blind over at The Muck. Not much has to be done according to our coordinator, just a little cutting back on vegetation and turning of boards on the boardwalk, so we should be finished before 10 AM.


Terry and I have tickets for tomorrow's minor league baseball game over in Binghamton. The Mets AA team will be playing the Portland, ME Sea Dogs, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The teams seem evenly matched (i.e. they both stink being 14 games out of first place with nearly identical records of 42-61 and 41-60) so it should be a good experience. The B-Mets have a Sit-and-Stitch promotion going on for folks like Terry who do a lot of stichin'. At $6 a ticket plus a voucher for a dog and coke, how can you go wrong? Oh yeah, and the seats are directly behind home plate!


It's the end of the month and I've managed to (mostly) pay all the bills. This song seems to come to mind. Perhaps Washington (where folks are also spending my money) should adopt it as an anthem.

That's the original writer and singer. Many more have sung this song and made it famous--Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Waylon Jennings, etc.--but it's good once in a while to hear it from the man who wrote it--Harlan Howard.

Aerie's Post Office on THE list.

The US Postal Service is discussing the closing of some 3600 post offices nationwide. These are, for the most part, small post offices that do little business monetarily or old post offices that would cost too much to revamp. They are located in tiny villages and large cities. Yours could be one of those under consideration. Ours is. THE LIST is euphemistically titled the Expanded Access Study List.

Not to worry, though. Your address, right down to the zip code will not change as the functions of your local post office will be merged with larger facilities in a nearby town. Even if you have a post box, that will, somehow, be transferred to a nearby facility. (I made that last out of whole cloth for the USPS does not tell you what happens to the folks--like Terry and I--who do not have home delivery but rather a PO Box at their (soon to be defunct) local post office.

The USPS is going back to the days of yesteryear in part. They are touting the creation of the Village Post Office run in small businesses like pharmacies, groceries, and "other appropriate retailers." For those of you who watched Little House On The Prairie or Northern Exposure you might get part of the idea. The local general store served as the post office. Today's plans do not say if these Village Post Offices will, you know, deliver mail via PO Boxes.

Oh. And don't call it a cut back in postal services. It's a "retail optimization effort."

Guess too many of us have "gone green" and started paying our bills electronically, heh?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Rain! And Cool!

We went over to Murphy's Blueberry Farm this morning to do our weekly pickin'. Unlike last week when it was already nearing 80 degrees when we pulled in at 8:30 AM, it was a cool 72 degrees with a lightly overcast sky. Terry and I were picking for nearly an hour when a light drizzle started but it felt good and didn't seem threatening. Twenty or thirty minutes later, however, there was a rumble of thunder in the distance that continued to get louder and louder. That was threatening! So we (and everyone else in the field) called it a day. In little better than an hour and a quarter we had gathered 5 1/4 pounds of blueberries.

As we checked out the rain began in earnest and it rained all the way back through Mansfield but when we turned south off Route 6 the rain diminished considerably so there was just a light drizzle falling when we got home. Since then, the temperature rose to just over 80 degrees and then fell to 69 degrees as a line of T-storms marking a cold front moved through. We did get rain from that but not in gully-washing proportions; more a gentle, soaking rain that will do the lawn and garden some good.

After lunch, as he front approached and the temperatures outside began to fall, I went to work turning those 5+ pounds of berries into seven pints of blueberry jam. We've now got a dozen jars of strawberry jam and 14 jars of blueberry in the larder. That should last us for a good while. If we do go berry picking again--and why not? It's fun!--we'll freeze what we gather and use them for muffins, pancakes and buckle.


Strange to watch the windmills rotate so much and so frequently as the front approached and passed. First the winds came from the west, then out of the north and then--as the front moved on--from the south.

Right now, we're just pleased to be getting some much needed relief from the hot, dry weather we've had for the past few weeks.


When we came home, I noticed one of the flower pots that was sitting on the retaining wall had, well, disappeared. This is a big sucker that holds several pounds of potting soil and it could not have just blown away. I found it on the ground beneath the utility trailer at the base of the retaining wall. Something had knocked it off severely denting a drain spout in the process. Another, larger flower pot had been tipped over. Terry's vote has gone to raccoons while I'm partial to a large black bear.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aerie Report, July 24, 2011

"Only" got up to 83 today as compared to the 97 degrees yesterday and 101.8 on Friday. THEY keep saying a chance of T-storms but nothing ever shows up on the radar. Terry and I cancelled a trip into New Jersey yesterday for an open house at my niece's. The forecast here was for 98-100 and there for 100-105. Too bloody hot to be traveling 500 miles round trip unnecessarily. (Sorry Kristen!)

I spent a few hours each afternoon in the basement where even that temperature has risen to 70 degrees. Usually it's between 65 and 68 degrees down there, but the very late afternoon sun has been shining in the walkout French doors and adjacent windows warming things up. That and the two escape wells on the southwest side of the house are--although vented--regular greenhouses. Sorting through computer hardware that no longer is compatible with anything I've got and software/floppy disks that I may or may not ever use again. Hardware/drives can go to the dump eventually. The useless CD's can be turned into 1) targets or 2) deer reflectors around the garden, but what can I do with all the hundreds of floppy disks? I've no need for that many drink coasters.

(From my Facebook account)
A quiet (but hot) weekend at the Aerie. Picked lots of string beans, zucchinis and cucumbers. Even got a few onions out of the ground with many more promising a winter's supply. Bear knocked over a small (4" diameter) chokecherry tree. Cuckoo flew into one of the windows (DOA). Nothing much happening.


Terry and I will be heading out early tomorrow morning to go blueberry picking again. I can never get enough blueberries! There are still a few ripening raspberries around the yard but they are small due to the heat and lack of rain. (Yeah we got 1.5 inches last Monday and--maybe--a dozen drops since then. Between their predictions for temperature and rainfall, the Old Farmers' Almanac really screwed the pooch this month!) The blackberries are not yet ripe on the hill. When the do turn from their current green color, I expect them to be hard as marbles from lack of moisture. If I pick any for my breakfast cereal, I'll have to watch out that I don't crack any teeth.


That's about it from the Aerie for now. Time to head off to the air conditioned bedroom for some shuteye.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Still Hot, Hot, Hot! (Enough already!)

Got up to 101.8 degrees late this afternoon on the Aerie thermometer. That is by far the hottest it's been since we moved in at the end of '06. Tomorrow, while not quite so hot will still be in the mid to upper 90s and Sunday will be more of the same. We may get a break on Monday with some T-storms ushering in a cool (not cold!) front and temps in the mid to upper 80s. Average high in these here parts for this time of year is 82-85 degrees.

Maybe I'll set the sprinkler out tomorrow and sit on a lawn chair for a bit. Well water can be a tad chilly though. Might shock my system. Maybe a beer or two four first to create some internal cooling. And numbness.

While I was stripping...

...Terry was in the kitchen putting up some dill relish from the cucumbers we have harvested. The slicing, chopping and dicing went well and the product of her labors looks yummy. It could have used a little color from yellow and red peppers but we didn't have any on hand. As a result, we have a completely green product.

Cup Jars of Dill Relish

Terry packaged these in cup jars and then sealed them in the boiling water manner. THAT took its toll. Boiling water for 10 minutes in (at that time) 94 degree heat (outside temp, 86 degrees inside)! No wonder early settlers opted for a separate summer kitchen. As the photo shows, she sealed seven jars and the leftovers are in an eighth jar in the fridge for immediate use.

Finish Stripping 101

As the afternoon temperatures on Thursday climbed to 97 degrees at the Aerie (104 was the reading at the Elmira-corning Airport according to and AccuHunch), I "escaped" to the slightly cooler garage to strip the finish off a pair of old headboards and foot boards for twin beds that were once used by my sister and I as kids. The beds date to at least 1958 and have never been refinished. The wood appears to be maple. I once stripped the dresser and chest on chest that were part of this bedroom set and those pieces are sitting in the basement being used for storage.

When Terry and I were new home owners way back in 1973, I took it upon myself to strip the paint off our old home's solid wood panel doors. Each door was two-over-two; that is, had two square panels on the bottom and two larger rectangular panels on the top. Each panel was bevel edged and was surrounded by cove molding. And each door had a gazillion layers of paint on it. (The house was built around 1906 and this was the first time these doors were stripped.) THE product of choice for that task was something called Zip-Strip. It took me all summer and about eight gallons of stripper to clean the doors so I could repaint them. Zip-Strip worked but I could only get three coats of paint off at a time. It also was extremely volatile--and not in a good way--which is why I did all my work on a set of saw horses set up in the back yard. By the end of the summer the fumes from the Zip-Strip may have damaged some brain cells...or maybe it was all the beer I drank while toiling away in the hot afternoon sun. I figure the beer to Zip-Strip ration may have been 3:1, maybe even 4:1.

The bed pieces had only one coat of finish on them (varnish?) so I thought I'd give something else a try. I had read about an orange colored and odored product called Citristrip and found it on the shelf at Lowe's. The fact that the directions say it's safe to use indoors and makes no mention of using it in a well ventilated area intrigued me. Could it be that safe and un-obnoxious? It claims to work on varnish, paint, other finishes, and many, many coats, too. As a gel, it should cling to the work, no? So, even with a price of $18 for half a gallon, I thought, "Why not?"

Let me tell you something: Citristrip is Great Stuff!

I applied it as directed using a paint brush, waited 30 minutes and used a plastic scraper--also as directed--and watched the finish come right off. Little or no elbow grease needed. That simple. If I left the gel to sit for a longer time, it did dry somewhat, but it still scraped off easily--perhaps even more so as it didn't run. (The package says it will stay moist for up to 24 hours, but that must be with a much thicker application than I used.)

The only caveat on the use of the stuff is to NOT use in direct sunlight or when there's a stiff breeze blowing. They're worried about evaporation. I was concerned about the heat so the garage was the ideal place to be! (The basement would have been cooler, but the cats....) There was a slight orange citrus aroma that beat the tar out of the strong, head spinning vapors other strippers produce. (I did open the window and garage bay door when I popped the top on the mineral spirits--just to be safe.)

I finished up using a stainless steel scrubbing pad and some mineral spirits to get the last of the stripper and goo off the pieces. With a little light sanding with very fine grit paper, the pieces are now ready for a fresh coat of paint. Or, perhaps, even a staining.

Citristrip is biodegradable and easily washes off your hands with soap and water. Same for any spatters you may get on your clothes. Latex gloves or their ilk are recommended for when you're scraping, however. That residual paint and stain doesn't come off so easily.

My work was on a single layer of finish, if dealing with multiple layers, a thicker application and longer sitting time may be necessary.

My only problem with Citristrip is also a plus: It is so thick it's nearly impossible to get out of the plastic jug it is sold in! They should market it in squeeze tubes like toothpaste so you can get that last little bit out of the container! (Not that I have to worry about that for a while. The four pieces--both sides--only required a little over half the jug--call it a pint+ used. And just one beer.) This thickness is a plus if you were working on door or window moldings or anything that is vertical. Citristrip will stick around on those surfaces to do the job.

[Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, an employee of W.M. Barr & Co., Inc., Memphis TN, manufactures of Citristrip. I have received nothing from them in making this endorsement of their marvelous product. However, should they wish to contact me....]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Zucchini Verdict

Joe's zucchini bread recipe produced a bread that's denser, a little drier, less sweet, and less spicy. Not surprising since it contains less oil, sugar and cinnamon but more flour and zucchini. More of a bread than a cake like Terry's. Still, it' s quite good as a light snack or breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea. A schmeer of cream cheese would improve the flavor. (In contrast, Terry's bread requires a glass of cold milk and a napkin to wipe your fingers from the oil. Not that that's a bad thing!)

I give Joe's 4-1/2 stars to Terry's 5 stars. Then again, Terry's is what I'm used to. (And I have to live with her.)

Zucchini Bread

Terry tried out a new recipe for zucchini bread this morning. She got it from her cousin Joe as we were picking blueberries on Monday. His recipe calls for two cups of shredded zuke for every loaf instead of just one cup as per Terry's recipe. (I think she's trying to use up the zukes without filling up the freezer with too many bricks of bread.) She mixed up a batch this morning and ended up with three loaves instead of two. (She said she didn't want to fill the pans to the brim afraid that they might rise too much and run over.) There's some ginger and lemon zest in these that Terry normally doesn't use. There's also about half the cinnamon. They cooked faster than Joe said they would (probably because of the under-filling of the pans) but look great. The taste test will come later today.

Zucchini breads cooling on the rack.

I've said it before: Zucchini bread is like manna from heaven. It's difficult to imagine how much is too much. (At least until you start adding up the cost of flour, sugar, cinnamon, etc.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

(Still) Hot, Hot, Hot!

Broke the 90 degree barrier at the Aerie today. Just a little but that's enough. It was hotter elsewhere in the region. One report I saw said 95 over in Elmira, NY. Might have been higher. A short period of cloudiness between 1 and 3 o'clock this afternoon kept it a wee bit cooler.

This heat wave just saps all your energy and desire to go outside and do any work. I've got firewood to stack and some more to cut and transport down from the hillside. And Accuhunch is saying it's likely we'll be having highs around the 90 degree mark right through next Tuesday. Could be worse. Lots of places seeing the century mark on their thermometers.


Terry helped load the loveseat, chair and ottoman into the truck this morning and then we went over to the dump to get rid of them. Slowly getting control of space and "stuff" issues. Funny how solving one solves the other.

We picked some string beans this afternoon. After a single day of NOT picking, we got quite a few. I pulled a couple of onions that had gone to the dead-head stage of their life. Two were rotten, but the other four, while not terribly large, were sound enough to keep. Also got some cucumbers and three nice sized zucchini. (There are going to be three or four more zukes ready for picking in the near future.) If it weren't so darn hot, Terry would be baking more zucchini bread for the freezer. As it is, she says she'll shred a bunch up and freeze that in packages that can then be pulled out for baking a batch of bread when it's cooler.


Took delivery of our new cocktail table late this afternoon. With the gateway legs and folding top, it opens up to a huge surface area suitable for jigsaw puzzles or an impromptu sit-on-the-floor dinner for four. Looks as nice in front of our (new) couch and fireplace as it did in the store.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Aerie Report, July 19, 2011

Peaceful day at the Aerie. Another near 90 degree scorcher with higher relative humidity due to yesterday's rains. (We got 1.5 inches of rain in that short cloudburst according to the rain gauge.)

Terry took her sick little Mac Notebook to the Apple Store in Syracuse today, did some shopping at the mall while she was there, and then scooted over near Troy for a stitching meeting of some sort. She should be home any minute now.

(The Apple crew determined the Mac's power source was not working and needed to be replaced. "Could it be because Chester keeps chewing the cord?" Terry asked. "No. The part he's NOT chewing has failed. It's okay though 'cause its still under warranty and it will be no charge." "Well, he never chewed on the old cord." "They changed the formulation of the plastic. The new stuff smell nicer which is probably why he chews at it even when you hit him on the head.")

I loaded up some junk (the furniture I brought down from the Bolt Hole, some stuff I literally dug up on the side of the house, an old bike that Rick was going to try and repair, and two boxes of old loose leaf binders I was saving for some long forgotten reason) and hauled it all over to the dump. I've still got the love seat, a chair and an ottoman to take over but I'll need Terry's help loading the love seat. It's just a wee bit too bulky to lift to the tailgate easily. And with the cap on the Tundra's bed I'll have some trouble hauling all three pieces at once but with some strong rope, I might be able to do it. But that's for tomorrow. This afternoon, I stayed in the basement (fairly steady 67 degrees in the summer) and cleaned a few things up.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Productive Day at the Aerie

Terry and I met with Joe for breakfast at Gramma's Kitchen this morning before we all went over to Murphy's Blueberry Farm to pick some. The mid-season bushes were loaded with juicy ripe berries. Joe got himself about 6 pounds and Terry and I combined for a little over 8 pounds of blueberries in about two hours of picking. Joe then headed home to near Jersey Shore and Terry and I went back to the Aerie.

With rain in the forecast, I picked string beans right after lunch and got over a quart. I also harvested three small cucumbers and half a dozen cherry tomatoes from our one potted plant.

Then it was time to do something with the blueberries. I got the fixin's and equipment out and processed seven pint jars of Blueberry Jam. We then put a quart of berries in the freezer and another in the fridge for breakfast cereal and ice cream topping and Terry took some out for muffins. She's set aside more for some blueberry buckle later this week.

Blueberry Jam

Blueberry Muffins

Late this afternoon, some rain did finally find its way to the Aerie. Heavy, heavy rain fell for over an hour and soaked everything. It fell so quickly that the ground had trouble absorbing it. There was a little rivulet of muddy water along the base of the slope behind the house. Runoff from the covered porch--the only area without any gutters--washed some of the stone I had there to slow it down out onto the lawn. Puddles formed in the garden where my heavy foot has packed the soil into hardened clay. And the bird bath over flowed.

You could almost hear the trees and lawn heave a great sigh of relief. This was the first measurable rain we have had since the late June. The concern I was starting to have about our well water supply has been eased considerably. There's still a chance of some more rain tonight.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot and Dry. Very Dry.

Another hot, sunny day here at the Aerie with only a 50% chance of rain in the forecast--for tomorrow. That rain, should we get it, would be more than welcome even if it is, as they predict, in the form of strong T-storms.

Yesterday was so dry it was ridiculous. The barometer nearly pegged out at the upper end above 30 inches where it says "Very Dry" on the dial while the hygrometer dipped down to just below 40% Relative Humidity yesterday. We're flirting with those numbers again today.

Walking on the "lawn" should NOT sound like walking on glass shards. And, if you were dumb enough to do so barefooted, it would probably feel like walking on glass shards, too. Trees are beginning to looks stressed and I'm concerned about the amount of water our well can supply. So far, it's been good, but there will come a time when the aquifer will need replenishment.

Terry and I have toyed with the idea of getting a small kiddie pool at WalMart for hot days like these, but concluded it wasn't worth it. It would take too much water to fill the pool and that water might attract bugs, bears and other critters if we didn't empty it each time we used it. In a sunny area, the water would heat up much too quickly to yield any cooling aid. And the pool would need to be on a thick tarp so stones from below didn't puncture it. Left in one spot for more than a few days, it would kill the "lawn" underneath. So we'll go without. If we ever get really, really hot and can't get cool in the basement, then we'll use a sprinkler and lawn chair. The "lawn" would appreciate that.

Bumper Sticker Message

Seen in the parking lot of the WalMart Super Center on Route 15 south of Mansfield, PA. On any given day we can find vehicles from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas...just about any place that has an interest in drilling or piping natural gas from our Marcellus Shale deposits. This truck, however, has PA plates and the message is from a landowners' co-op involved with mineral (natural gas) rights.

Note two things before you move on:
  • 1) This is a new truck. Paid for by drilling/mineral rights lease?
  • 2) This is a new FORD truck, not one of the bailed out Government Motors models. There is a Chevy dealer in town as well as a Ford dealer. Not sure what the message may be in that.

"Pass Gas It's a Movement"

Oh, and the That's a company (Whitetail Natural Gas Services) working every aspect of the gas production arena. And the RIT sticker is for Rochester Institute of Technology.

Yeah, nothing but a bunch of hicks and bitter clingers out here in the wilds of north-central Pennsylvania.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Company at the Aerie

And so our company has come and gone. Jim and Pat arrived around noon on Thursday on their way to the Green Bay area of Wisconsin. Terry had prepared a nice stuffed cabbage and kielbasa dinner for them which we all enjoyed before heading out to the western parts of Tioga County.

I think they were equally impressed with all the gas drilling and pipeline laying activity as they were by the nearness of Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon and the beauty of Hills Creek State Park.

The view from Leonard Harrison State Park on the east rim of the Pine Creek Gorge was a spectacular as ever and there were several Turkey Vultures soaring on the late afternoon thermals right off the viewing area.

Jim and Pat at the Leonard Harrison SP overlook on Pine Creek Gorge
(aka The Grand Canyon of PA)

The view south down the Canyon

Tioga County CCC Worker.
(Jim says he used to look like that
when he was flying helicopters in Nam.
I told him he's two, maybe three, times the man now.)

We stopped in Wellsboro to enjoy a pizza at Tony's, too.

Arriving home, I had just enough light to pick some more string beans and a few zukes before watering the garden. We're still getting between a pint and a quart of string beans a day from the little 6'x6' area I planted. The cucumbers, however have taken a beating from the lack of rain and the ground hog's grazing and don't look like they will be producing enough for Terry to make many pickles this year. The dryness has caused the zukes to slow down--something Terry is thankful for since it means less baking in the warm temperatures we've been getting.


Friday morning we headed up to Tioga-Hammond Lakes and Ive's Run Recreation Area before heading on up to Corning and its Glass and Rockwell Museums.

I was hoping to see some Bald Eagles over at the Tioga-Hammond overlook but all we spotted were a pair of Ospreys. There were a couple of new additions to the overlook area, however. They've put up a new interpretive sign explaining the connecting weir between the two lakes. Hammond Lake is the cleaner of the two lakes--Tioga suffers from the mine drainage all the way upstream from Blossburg--and is five feet higher. The connector mixes the clean water of Crooked Creek/Hammond Lake with the contaminated waters of the Tioga River. Along with the flow from Mill Creek, this makes the Tioga Lake a suitable habitat for Crappie and Bass. They've also added a flag pole to the lookout area and the Army Corps now flies the American Flag from this high point.

View south of Tioga Lake from the Tioga-Hammond Lakes Overlook

We drove around the day use areas of Ive's Run Campground and then stopped in to talk to the volunteer at the Visitors' Center. The gardens there were mostly in bloom and Pat and Terry enjoyed them if not the two rattlesnakes in the terrarium inside. It was explained that they are allowed to keep only two and these, one light phase and one dark, were "collected" at the volunteers' campground. Gave Terry second thoughts about camping there again!

A few of the Cone Flowers at the Ive's Run Visitors' Center

We went up to Corning to the Museum of Glass where we viewed the displays and watched a live demonstration of glass blowing. That little show is different every time I see it and is still impressive as all get out. I also watched a littler demonstration of sculpting with glass as an artist made a small dog sculpture--four legs, tail, head, ears and open mouth--from a couple of glass rods and a special gas/oxygen torch all in about 15 minutes.

Jim plays with fire at the Glass Museum

Then it was lunch time and we went to Sorge's for some fine Italian food.

After lunch, it was time for the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. This is a small museum but the quality of its permanent displays and the temporary displays is well worth the time. (Especially since you can get a discounted price on a combo ticket with the Museum of Glass.) I enjoy the few pieces from Remington and Russell that they have but the special exhibitions they currently have--Andy Warhol: Cowboys and Indians--Andy Warhol, of all people!, and the Wild West: Beauty of the Beast of wildlife paintings by various artists dead and alive were very, very nice. Unfortunately, you can't take pictures in those last two galleries.

End of the Trail by James Earle Fraser (1876-1953)
(I always thought this was a Fredric Remington piece!)
This is about how I was feeling as the day wore on.

High Country Pond by Clyde Aspevig (1951- )
If I could wish myself into a painting....

After a long day, we made it back to the Aerie where I picked more string beans and did some more watering. Then we sat around a talked about this that and the other thing before heading off to bed.


This morning Chester sounded the alarm at 5 freakin' 30 AM. I stumbled out of bed and let them in to the bedroom (a rare treat) but they insisted upon going downstairs for breakfast. So we did. I made coffee while they (the cats) ate. Terry came down when Shadow noticed she was missing and went up to get her. Pat and Jim got up shortly there after for omelets and bacon. They were packed, out the door, and headed on their way to Niagara Falls (then Canada, Michigan, and finally Wisconsin) by their scheduled 8 AM. They've got to be in Green Bay by Sunday night and should be able to make that no sweat.

So we've had our company and the guest bedroom is empty--for now. What are you doing?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh my gosh!

Denny's got the scoop over at his place.

If you're a beer drinker, know a beer drinker, or wish to become a beer drinker, it behooves you to check it out: Beer (containing female hormones) has been proven to turn men into women!

Aerie Report, July 13, 2011

Wahoo! We actually got 27 drops of rain this morning. No. Really. I counted each and every one. Not long after, however, the sun emerged and dried everything up...again. The sun played peek-a-boo all day long with the puffy cumulus clouds gradually thinning until now--coming on 5:30 PM--there's nary a cloud to be seen. At least the temperatures have moderated considerably. Today's high was around 3:30 PM with a reading of 81 degrees. The steady breeze out of the north northwest has brought cooler temps and may result in a low tonight in the 50s--something that's been a rarity lately.

I went out this morning and weeded the perennial bed in front of the main entrance. It really needed it badly. A small clover-like weed had taken over all the spaces between the flowers and, while green, looked hideous. Of course, when I got done, all the bare dirt looked even worse so it was off to Agway for some nice red cedar mulch and four or five new plants to fill things in. As a result, I ended up working through the hottest part of the day with the sun beating down on me.

I'll be outside shortly harvesting more string beans and watering the vegetables and flowers. The lawn is starting to look sere but I'm not going to water that no matter what. If it dies, it dies and I'll start over. THEN I'll water, but not before. (The TV weatherman out of Elmira, NY says we are not in a drought because--get this--we've had 0.4 inches of rain this month! Maybe in Elmira, buck-o! The Aerie has had less than 0.1 since July 1.)

Terry, meanwhile, was inside baking zucchini bread. She got eight loaves of the stuff for the freezer and has enough shredded zucchini for two more. That also went in the freezer--for now. In a couple of days, she'll have another half dozen large zukes to shred and will be able to bake up even more loaves of this savory manna.

The cats meanwhile did what cats do best--imitating throw pillows. Except when it's meal time or when they (very vocally) demand snacks. I like their schedule.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Aerie Report, July 12, 2011

Still hot and dry here at the Aerie. A mid 80 degree sunny day which had only the steady breeze and 50% relative humidity as saving graces.

A pretty quiet day at the Aerie today. I mean besides the watering of the garden, putting the new AC in the master bedroom; cutting the grass; picking wild raspberries; weeding the onion bed; picking string beans, cukes and zukes; watering the garden--again.

In between, Terry and I did some cleaning up in preparation of company coming on Thursday. Terry's cousin (Jim) and his wife (Pat) from Columbia, South Carolina will stop by for a couple of days. Jim has several allergies and is very allergic to cats. The guest bedroom is (relatively) cat free but the remainder of the house.... So it was a couple of hours of vacuuming, cleaning the cats' beds, clipping the cats' claws, dusting, etc. Even so, Terry's got an itinerary planned that will keep folks out of the house and touring the sights in and around Tioga County. The Grand Canyon, Hills Creek SP, Wellsboro, Corning, Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes wine country...there's a lot to see and do. We're looking forward to their arrival.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot! Hot! Hot!

That's the new Three H's around here. Although, Hazy and Humid are still about. It was a farookin' hot, hot day here at the Aerie. The temperature reached the 90 degree mark and the blazing sun made it feel even hotter when you ventured out. Still no rain today or in the near future. Everything is drying up. (Who was that sonfoagun who prayed for the rains of April, May and early June to cease? Can we get him to work on praying for an economic recovery?)

Naturally, with everything dry as a bone, the town (or maybe the gas company) decided it was time to grade the dirt roads around the Aerie. Don't get me wrong, the roads needed grading. There were clusters of potholes numerous enough and large enough that you might think the AF had sent a drone to bomb. Dust has become a regular thing. You hang back from any vehicle in front of you because the dust cloud might clog your cars air filter--and you cant see the leading vehicle if you get too close anyway. All you can be sure of is that it's there--somewhere--ahead of you. Once they (whoever "they" is) finish grading a section of the road, they spread calcium and water on it in the hopes that will keep the dust settled. Sometimes it works.


We did our best to help boost the economy in these parts today.

After I watered the garden this morning, Terry and I did venture out. First we stopped at Grandma's on Rt. 15 in Mansfield for a hearty breakfast and then we went over to Murphy's Blueberry Farm to pick. And pick. And pick. We picked for about two hours and, when all said and done, put 19 Ziploc packages--each containing 2 cups--of blueberries into the freezer. Nine quarts of berries for two hours work (and $23.50) isn't so bad. It was too hot to think about making BB jam so they all got froze. This time. Next time--next Monday, weather permitting--may be a different story.

Then we went shopping. The new furniture didn't come with a recliner, but I didn't need one since there are two upstairs in the loft in my TV zone. Nor did they have a matching ottoman which would allow me to put my feet up and relax with my laptop, so we went looking for one (ottoman, that is) at Beiters in Mansfield. We also were in the market for and picked up two new window air conditioners--one 8000 BTU unit for our bedroom so we can semi-retire the 10+ year-old machine that's been doing yoeman's work for us (it will get moved to Terry's TV/sewing room which is smaller in size and lacking a cathedral ceiling) and a second smaller 6000 BTU unit for the guest bedroom. They also had a couple of swiveling stools on clearance which I picked up for my workshop. One is just the right height for working on the scroll saw and the other is perfect for the workbench. (And, should it stay this hot much longer, I'll be spending lots of time down in the (relatively) cool, cool workshop/basement--or in bed--with the AC running.)

Next we stopped at Lowe's to pick up some wooden woven rollup shades for the French doors in the living room. During the summer the late afternoon sun comes in that glass and creates a greenhouse effect. While the glass above the doors will still admit sun, the new shades will cut the amount in half and, hopefully, that will result in a little cooler conditions.

Back home, I installed the new AC in the guest BR and the shades in the living room. (The other AC installation and movement will be done tomorrow AM.) Only bad thing about the shades is the pull cord is on the right side and can not easily be switched to the left because the manufacturer used rivets and not bolts to attach the hardware. This makes things a little dicey for the one over the left side of the French doors. I might have to thing about drilling out the rivets at some point, but, since we seldom open those doors, the shades will do just fine as they are for now.

I also picked string beans, cukes and zukes. We've now got five quarts of beans in the freezer and will probably get a quart a day for the next week or so--unless another ground hog shows up. The zukes we've been getting are just the right size for grilling or steaming--with one exception which will become zucchini bread soon. There are currently half a dozen little zukes (about 4-5 inches long) on the plants. They will be ready for harvest in a day or two. I can foresee a day in the near future when we will allow them to get into the 10-12" range on purpose so they can be used for breads. A fella can only eat so much zucchini before crying, "Enough!" but there there NEVER comes a time when there is enough zucchini bread!


Driving around today, Terry commented on how picturesque the hay fields look with their rolled up bales of hay sitting there ever hundred feet or so. We saw a few places where the farmer had recently cut his hay bit had not yet baled it. The stuff was laying in the hot sun drying nicely. Other fields showed signs of recent plowing but no growth. That made me think about how tenuous things can be for a farmer. Earlier this these guys couldn't get into their fields to cut hay or even plow for planting. Now, while they can cut and bale and plow, they're concern is the need for rain to make that hay produce a second and third crop or for the newly planted seeds to germinate and grow. Farming's a tough and unpredictable livelihood.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Back at the Aeire

Back at the Aerie after a semi-productive several days at the Bolt Hole. The ride down was an uneventful 4-hour jaunt that has become remarkably routine--almost boring.

Arriving home, I found that there had been absolutely no rain at the Aerie at all. Terry had been watering the garden, but, perhaps, not enough. Everything (cucumbers especially) was wilting in the bright, hot, almost 90 degree sunshine. After we went through an picked (another quart) string beans and a couple of zucchinis, I watered; completely soaking the ground around the cukes and beneath the beans. Late this afternoon, everything was perking up nicely. I'll give everything another dousing in the morning as there's only a 30% chance of late afternoon T-storms on Monday while the temperatures will soar into the 90s.

While picking and watering, I noticed there were some a lot of leaves missing from the cucumber plants (although the beans right next door were untouched) and wondered what might have decided to supplement its diet with fresh greens. This evening I found out when a ground hog appeared on the lawn right in front of the garden. Being a good little horticulturalist, I grabbed by Gammo air rifle and (hopefully) put an end to that marauder's existence. I say hopefully because it wasn't a completely clean kill. While my shot rolled the critter, it managed to drag itself into the raspberry thicket where I could not get a follow up shot. Still, I believe it was a good hit and the beast will expire. I knew I should have brought the .22 home from the Bolt Hole!


Tomorrow, Terry and I will be going blueberry picking at the nearby Murphy's U-Pick Blueberry Farm in Mansfield. We want to go early so as to avoid the heat of the day so will be there shortly after they open the gate at 8 AM. Monday is usually the best time to go because they are closed on Sunday and, therefore, the plants have a double bounty of ripe berries ready for plucking. We missed going last year because we were on the road, but two years ago we were each able to fill a two quart bucket in less than an hour. Tomorrow won't be the only time we'll get there this summer. Cousin Joe and his wife Pat want to get in on the action. They can't make it tomorrow, but might be able to do so next Monday.


Oh yeah, the new furniture. The color is remarkably complimentary to to both the carpet and the stone work in the fireplace. The thistle green goes well with the slate-ish greens of the faux stone and the few natural stones. And the chairs are very comfortable. Just ask the cats. If Chester ever gets off the sofa, I might see how it feels to lay down on it. The old love seat was just a tad too short.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Bolt Hole, July 9, 2011

Beautiful sunny day here in the northland. Temperatures remained in the low 70s and the humidity has dropped considerably. A light breeze blowing out of the west northwest makes it even nicer.

Just got done doing 2 hours with the chainsaw. Cut up two maples and a birch that were blown down along the side of the trail on the east side a couple of years ago. Disappointed (but not surprised) that the two maples were already showing some rot in their core. Still, the logs were thick enough that losing four or five inches in the center will still yield me four to six nice pieces of firewood once it's split. The birch (the grey shaggy barked kind) displayed little rot in its core and will make some fine firewood.

What did surprise me was the amount of water that came gushing out of one of the logs. It had a hole facing upward that captured snowmelt and rain in a little interior reservoir. Got my pant legs soaked when I hit that sucker! Water literally poured from the cut surface and, propelled by the chainsaw, was thrown against my shins.

Earlier today, I did a three hour walkabout with the loppers in the woods to the west. Some real nice deer trails in there. This is where Mark and I harvested last year's firewood from three downed maple trees. I might be able to get an ATV load or two from the stumps that we left. Other than that, and except for a couple of fir trees, there aren't any new blow downs to be had for firewood. There are, however, a couple of standing cherry trees that, with all their twists and bends, are good for nothing but firewood. Problem there is that they need a year's worth of seasoning to be any good for burning.

I hesitate to bring fresh wood like that out to the yard or barn. History is not on our side with folks stealing wood from the barn which has no doors. I could cut and stack the stuff in the forest, but the shadiness of the woods will not help it cure properly. Guess I'll have to figure out how to hang some doors on the barn!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Bolt Hole, July 8, 2011

I've now got a working gas stove and oven again. I had to run down to Tractor Supply for the propane hose, regulator and gas tank; and went next door to get some necessary hardware and tools (all but the most basic tools are in the boxes in PA, of course). Got the gas tank filled up on the way back. It took me longer to go down to the store and back than it did to install the stuff once I got home. I had some 12-24" angle iron laying around that was predrilled for 1/4" bolts. Two long pieces got attached to the wall with lag bots and I used five of the shorter ones to create a platform on which the gas tank rests. A 1" hole drilled through the wall allowed me to pass the hose from the woodshed (where the gas tank is located) to the kitchen behind the stove. A little teflon tape on the joints and it was ready to be tested.

Aside from the little wait for the propane to get through the line for the first time, everything works perfectly. I can now fry up things (eggs, bacon, steaks, chops...Hey! I'm getting hungry here!) to my hearts content. I'll also be able to do a roast or bake some cookies. All I need do now is restock the larder with the necessary ingredients.


Did a quick walkabout in the orchard but could not determine what was out there last night. There were deer tracks in the sand at the end of the driveway, however, so deer is the likely answer. No new branches bent or broken that I could tell, but the leaves and lower apples have been gnawed at.


Terry just called to say that the furniture we bought on Monday was delivered. Well, the sofa and chairs were delivered. The cocktail table will be coming next Wednesday. They forgot to mention that or call to tell us about that change. Terry says the color is perfect. The "Thistle" shade of green goes well with the carpet and the stones in the fireplace. Being lighter than the furniture we took out should help brighten the room, too.

Things that go bump in the night.

In walking about the yard and reclaimed apple orchard yesterday I was amazed at the number of apples that have appeared on the spindly trees--some of which have snapped or been bent over under the weight of either late snows or the apples on the topmost branches. I could also clearly see where either deer or bear had tramped through the tall grasses amongst the trees to nibble at the lower leaves and twigs. Then last night, at around midnight, something or somethings quite large were out there among those trees making quite a clatter snapping branches and shaking the trees. There was no snorting or stomping so typical of a deer even when I turned on the outside lights. Unfortunately, the foliage is so dense those outside lights did not penetrate into the area where the noise was coming from and I could not determine what it was. My best guess is that it was a bear--or several of them, as in a sow and cubs--plucking the green apples.

Aside from the ruckus, it was a nice night for sleeping as the temperatures dropped in to the low to mid 50s.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Bolt Hole, July 7, 2011

A beautiful day here at the Bolt Hole. Clear skies with just a few fair weather cumulus clouds and temperatures in the upper 70s.

I got the rest of the lawn cut once the heavy morning dew evaporated. That took a little longer than expected since the grass was so long. Additionally, some of the wild strawberries and clover were visibly transpiring water at the edges of their leaves. Still, I was able to get the mower out there around 10:30 and work in the areas that got the early sunshine before moving on to the rest. It took me two hours to cut the grass. Normally it takes about that long to do the entire lawn but...well, see what I said about length of grass and the moisture.

After lunch I went in to the woods looking for some downed trees (or standing dead ones) to use for firewood. I located six downed cherries and maples form a few years back that I can cut up. Two cherries are going to be easy to get to as they are right next to one of the easier ATV trails. Two maples are in the middle of a trailess patch and getting to them will be a chore. Too many boulders and hummocks and marshy spots to make it easy. The remaining two trees are again near a path but that path is a wee bit overgrown with cedars and hemlocks and will require some clearing and widening. Also, those last two trees are NOT on the ground but hung up at one end and it may be necessary to take the support tree down to get to them. They will be the last ones I will take, if I take them at all.

In all, I spent three hours mucking about in the woods with brush loppers in hand. I should have brought some surveyor's tape with me to mark likely paths to the downed trees.

Saw numerous deer tracks in the mud of the ATV trails. Nothing absolutely HUGE, but certainly a doe and at least one fawn based on the size of the tracks. I did not see any critters, however, not even a red squirrel--which is really strange since they have been very abundant in the past in the areas I explored today. Then again, there haven't been any mice around in months. I wonder if the presence of hawks (I saw a goshawk when I drove in yesterday) and fisher cats have anything to do with that.


I disconnected the kitchen stove from the copper pipe that carried propane into the house. Now that I've got the pieces in hand, I can more easily go to Tractor Supply and get exactly what I need to do my own hook-up. Aside from having to drill a new hole in the wall, it should* be an easy enough job.

(*I say should because nothing is ever as easy as it first appears. Nothing!)


As I mentioned in the update to my last report, Terry did NOT go to NJ to see her Mom. The birthday girl had plans of her own and took a senior citizens' bus down to AC to visit the casinos and sit on the boardwalk.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

At the Bolt Hole, July 6, 2011

Drove up to the Bolt Hole today just to see how things are. They are just peachy-keen! If you forget the tall grass that still needs cutting (Mark did the largish area west of the cabin and in front of the barn and garage, but the rest needs mowing), the deer flies (Mark says they are horrible, I've not seen one), the need to cut firewood somewhere, and the thunderstorms that rolled through at 3:15 PM while I was doing some of the grass cutting. Those storms lasted for an hour and a half and dropped quite a bit of rain on my yard. Using the old "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three..." method, I estimated the closest lightening was about a mile away. At least the rain dropped the very warm temperatures (82 degrees) to more reasonable levels (68 degrees). (I got readings of 90 and 91 degrees on the NYS Thruway on my way up.) The rains put a halt to any plans to cut the remainder of the yard today. There's still a watch on until 9 PM tonight but the radar looks pretty tame at the moment.

I'll get out there tomorrow around 10 AM if there are no more showers and get the rest of the yard done. Might even get a little of the shooting lane and the ATV trails cut if they're not too tall for the mower. Then again, I could pull out the brush hog.

Then it's off into the woods to scout up some firewood. I've got my thoughts on some old blow downs that--in the past--were just a little too far off the ATV trails to make hauling cut wood out easy. Might have to look for a way to cut a new trail in closer to those downed trees.

I've also got to get some measurements for a new propane line. I had the energy supplier pull his tanks (two 100# hulks) since I only use about one 20# tank a year for my cooking purposes. I'll need to figure out how to run a line from the woodshed into the stove and what size fittings I'll need. I thought about using the same stuff we have on the trailer, but that's rubber hoses and mice and red squirrels trouble me on that count. There's also a metal flexible fitting available at Tractor Supply that just might do the trick if the diameter is AOK.

So those are my tasks for the next few days: cut grass, find firewood, hook up stove to a new source of propane. None of them are difficult--if the bugs remain scarce and it doesn't rain any more. (Even then, the stove stuff is indoors!)


Terry's off to see her Mom in NJ tomorrow. It's Mom's birthday. The Lady will be 87 88 years young. She's been complaining about some sciatic pain but it's hardly slowing her down a bit. (Well, except for begging out of the trip to Maine last weekend.)

Terry will have to return to the Aerie by Friday noon. The new furniture will be delivered "between 2 and 4 in the afternoon" they say. We hauled the old stuff out in to the garage this morning before I left and I'll take it to the dump when I get back. There are a couple of pieces here at the Bolt Hole that need discarding and I'll be taking out with me. The cats were looking around as we hauled the stuff into the garage and you could see the little cogs in their heads whirling as they thought about the loss of lounging chairs. I'm sure they will have the new stuff broken in by the time I get home Sunday night.

[UPDATE: Terry had to cancel her trip. Seems Mom was going to AC for the day, sciatica be damned! It's "only" a 2 1/2 hour bus ride. One way.]

It's that time of year again. Saw signs this morning for U-Pick Blueberries at our favorite farm. Guess I'll have to give Joe a call as he wants in on stocking the freezer and jam shelf. I know I'll be there come Monday morning. That's the best day of the week since they are closed on Sunday for some family time, R&R and grass cutting.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Sunday...Home again. Monday the 4th.

Terry and I headed back home again after church services (Terry attended with her cousins) and breakfast hosted by the bride's parents.

We back tracked our route and even stopped at the same diner for lunch. (Yeah, it was that good the first time.) being Sunday, July 3rd, traffic was light and the weather cooperated until we got on I-88 in New York State. Just south of Cobelskill, we ran into some torrential rain and thunderstorms. They really limited visibility and traction on the roadway, so it was a good thing there were so few other vehicles with which to share the road. We hit two such storms that lasted 20-30 minutes each and by the time we were approaching Binghamton, it was over. The roads were dry as a bone as we moved west on Route 17 and then back into PA and home. It hadn't rained here on Armenia Mountain at all.


Having indulged myself with the purchase of a new GPS unit, I took Terry out today to get some new living room furniture. The loveseat, chair and ottoman we have now are 2530 years old and starting to really show their age. We went up to Horseheads and the nearest Raymour and Flannagan outlet and picked out a sofa, two chairs and a cocktail table that will look and fit nicely in front of the fireplace. Best of all, they had a sale on so we saved some $$$ and delivery is promised for Friday of this week. Just in time to entertain a couple of cousins from South Carolina who should be here around the 15th.

Saturday in Maine: Water, Boat Building and Wedding

Saturday was to be the Big Day for Eliza and David but we had all morning and early afternoon for further exploration. To that end, Terry and I set off up the coast a short distance in search of the ocean waters at the end of a couple of the many protruding bits of land along the Maine coast.

We drove up to Brunswick past the campus of Bowdoin College. Having been there before, we didn't feel the need to stop at the Perry-MacMillan Arctic Museum or the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Museum. Instead, we headed down Route 123 in search of the reversing falls at Basin Cove. Signage wasn't what it should be and we couldn't located the falls despite driving all the way to the end of the road. We turned about and headed north (inland) again then cut across Mountain Road to Route 24. This we followed out to The Lands End Gift Shop and the Lobsterman's Statue on Jaquish Gut.

Sailboat out in Casco Bay viewed from Bailey Island.

Lobsterman's Statue at then end of the road on Bailey Island.

The Due Time heads through the Jacquish Gut with lobser pots on board.
(Jacquish Island in rear.)

Terry pronounces the ocean's waters wet, cold, and saline.
Well, she was in the clean water division of the EPA, so she should know.

(Other's photos can be found here: Bailey Island, Maine.)

Having succeeded in finding the ocean, we headed back to Route 1 and up to Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum. Very comprehensive site that takes you through boat and shop building in the Bath area. You can even get a short (1 hour) boat cruise to see the boat works from the water. Or, there are tours of the Bath Iron Works and the massive floating dry dock used in modern steel hulled construction. We confined ourselves to the immediate grounds and strolled around the displays and workshops. Fascinating place.

But we had a wedding to attend! Back to the motel to get dressed and then off to the Old Meeting Hall in Yarmouth.

Elizabeth and David about to exchange vows and rings.

After a simple ceremony in the Old Yarmouth Meeting House, the party moved on to the bride's former home and an outdoor reception just a few blocks away.

Mr. and Mrs. Messinger have the first dance.

Elizabeth dances with her Dad, Stephan.

David dances with his Mom, Patricia.

Maddie and her parents, Joseph and Jacqueline. Baby brother arrives mid August.

High school sweethearts Alex and Danielle are next. They wed on September 9th.
Alex is a submariner and Danielle (David's cousin) will be starting her internship (pediatrics) in the fall.

A good time was had by all.