Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lunch Guest

We had a guest for lunch today. Just as Terry and I sat down for our noonday meal, a black squirrel appeared on the deck. It's not the first of its kind at the Aerie. We had one show up in the winters of '06-'07 and '07-'08, but this is the first we've seen since then.

Add it to the rather odd, nearly all white striped skunk we saw on our way to the Audubon meeting last night.
Black Squirrel 

Black Squirrel

Black Squirrel

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pet Peeve/Rant...or Two

I find it frustrating that when you comment on a Facebook post that needs to be corrected because it is soooo wrong, that all you see on your timeline (and presumably all your friends see) is that you commented on that ill-written, stupid post and NOT what you said about it. To see what you said, your friends would have to click on the post and scroll down to find your comment.

I commented on a post about Bill Nye appearing on The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell

What I said was that Bill Nye (The Science Guy) is dead wrong to assume there is a consensus among the scientific community on AGW/Climate Change.

Yes, the climate is changing. It always has and always will.

Has CO2 been proven to be the cause of global warming? Not yet. CO2 levels have been going up. Global temperature has been level for the last 15-17 years. And the scientific computer models Nye loves so much didn't predict that plateau nor can they explain it.

Why have those pushing huge changes in our life style only targeted North America, Europe, and Australia vis-a-vis reducing CO2 emissions when other nations/continents produce more and continue to increase their production of so called greenhouse gases? Have they even noticed or acknowledged that the US has reduced its CO2 output since the Kyoto Treaty wasa passed? And, despite not signing that worthless piece of paper, is the ONLY nation to successfully reduce its CO2 emissions? (You can thank fracking and the boom of natural gas production for that, not windmills or solar energy.)

From what I've seen of those following and supporting AGW and Climate Change, I'm not impressed with their scientific abilities. As con artistis and scammers however....

What Else Happened Today

To celebrate the recovery of my middle finger from frostbite--and as a belated Valentine's Day outing--Terry and I went to Red Lobster for dinner. Lobsterfest is all it's cracked up to be! The mushrooms we had as an appetizer weren't the only thing to be stuffed.

We also went to Barnes & Noble were Terry got a couple of romance novels and I picked up books by Stephen King and Janet Evanovich on the writing craft as well as a novel by Sarah Hoyt (A Few Good Men) and two by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (The Long Earth and The Long War).

We also stopped at JoAnn's so Terry could get some material for a couple of projects she's working on.


We got another delivery of propane today. Our tank was nearly half full so the volume of the delivery wasn't much above 225 gallons but the price was about $3.65 per, or about ten cents more than the delivery we got last month. That should get us through the winter, however.

I'm not going to complain too much about the price, however. In many places dealers are short of supply and if you're not a regular customer you could get into a bind. We signed on with Williams Oil & Propane when we built the Aerie. They installed our heating system and hot water system and have been out several times to service them. Good, local folks who are knowledgeable, friendly and dependable.

 I've been burning lots of wood in the fireplace but only on days when the lows have been near zero and the highs around 20. It's reduced our usage of propane, but not by much. It's also reduced my pile of firewood considerably! I'll need to cut, haul, split and stack quite a bit this summer to prepare for next winter. Knees, travel and well drilling put a dent in the amount of time I could allot to those chores this year.


The forecast is for another 3-6 inches of snow late tonight through Tuesday morning. *sigh* Guess I'll be firing up the tractor again tomorrow afternoon. Where I'm going to dump it is anybody's guess. I would prefer to put it all in Punxsutawney Phil's burrow!

They promise things will be warming up later in the week and we might begin to see some of this white stuff turn to water. It might even reach 40 degrees for a couple of days but there could be some rain showers along with that. Then it will get cold again for a couple of days early next week. Winter just will not go quietly it seems. Don't mind the temperature dropping again so long as the measurable (2+ inches) snow falls stop.

Update of Frostbite--All Is GOOD!

Went to Corning to see the doctor about my frostbit finger this afternoon. He was suitably impressed by my recovery and said that, though I might still lose my nail, I will not have to have any surgery nor do I need to see him again.

Feeling has returned to the middle finger although it's still super sensitive and the other three are virtually normal. The tissues of the middle finger are still new, the doctor said, but they should thicken and toughen up with time. He also said I might recover normal feeling--or I might not. Nerves are tough to predict, but if he were a betting man, normal is the way he would bet.

He also said that there are doctors out there who, upon seeing the original condition of the finger, would have pressed for amputation of part of the finger ASAP. He prefers the "frostbite in January, debraid (amputate) in March/April" method of treatment. He prefers this approach because frostbite--and the recovery from it--is so unpredictable.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

On Second Thought....

There's a reason I put a question mark at the end of the title of the last post.  (Time To Hit the Road?)

I ran some numbers regarding the cost of fuel, food and lodging on a proposed Grand Tour and have decided that it's a wee bit too costly to make such a trip at this time. Especially since my better half has expressed an interest in doing at least the last half (Texas, the Gulf Coast, Florida and South Carolina) as well. Maybe it's my Scot's heritage that makes me quail at the expense. (The Irish and Dutch portions say. "Go for it!")

We may still make a run south to Florida and South Carolina sometime in March. And maybe a quick trip to Milwaukee and Chicago. But the larger tour may have to wait until the RV is able to get on the road. It may be slower (450 miles per day as opposed to 800) and eat up more fuel than the Tundra (10 mpg vs. 16-18), but campgrounds are less costly than motels and cooking your own meals is  cheaper than eating out every meal.

I'll also get in a short trip or two to the Adirondacks to check on the Bolt Hole before the Big Thaw comes around.

We will get a Big Thaw, won't we? When it comes I hope it's a slow thaw. With all the snow on the ground around here, there's going to be one heck of a runoff problem if it happens too quickly. With most of the rivers iced up, ice dams could produce a huge headache.


Terry and I spent a couple of hours shoveling the driveway today after Mother Nature dropped another 2+ inches on us. On top of the 8 inches we got on Thursday, I'm rapidly running out of room to put the snow. Luckily much of it goes over the edge of the slope on the north side of the driveway, but there's still a tremendous amount on the west side of the parking area in front of the garage and at the end of the driveway where there really isn't any place to put it. If it goes down the slope, it ends up in the road and the plow just puts it back in the driveway. Where we shovel it off the deck, we've got a ridge that's almost four feet high!

We've now got close to two feet on the level surfaces and mounds on the verge of the parking area and at the end of the driveway that easily measure five feet. And that's after the thaw at the end of December melted our first foot of snow. Sochi should have so much snow!

Forecasts say we'll have a couple of cold days before we get up above freezing. Then it will be above freezing during the day and in the 20s at night right through the end of March. The guys working sugar bushes will be please by that. Maple sugaring could have a boom year.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Time To Hit the Road?

Snowing at the Aerie today. They promised we'd be in the 1-3 inch zone. when the forecast came out this morning. We've passed that and are now looking at 5 inches. Funny thing about weather: The models often get it wrong. (Same is true for climate. Not one model predicted or can explain the 15-17 years of non-warming we've been having.) The snow and the cold (At least THAT hasn't been a problem today. Low of 12 and high of 24 degrees.) got me to thinking.

Since I had my knees replaced last July 15th, I have been--with the exception of one flight to Portland, OR to say hello and goodbye to Aisley Cecilia--pretty much confined to short trips to New Jersey and the doctor's offices in Corning, New York. And it is starting to drive me nuts. That's why I didn't mind the 300 mile round trip to Harrisburg for the Great American Outdoor Show last week.

But it wasn't enough. I'm slowly going stir crazy. When I'm not out moving snow around (something I will have to do on Friday...again) I've been rereading all of Terry Prachett's books, doing crossword puzzles, solving sudoku puzzles, swiffering the floors, and doing laundry. Heck, I even cleaned the range top the other day. And now I've started doing jigsaw puzzles. One thousand pieces takes three days while watching Bones and Castle reruns on TNT. (BTW, I've almost memorized all the Castle episodes up to the 2013-14 season, having seen each multiple times.)

Terry, on the other hand has, in addition to the short, sad trip to Portland, traveled to Poland, Louisville, KY; Dallas, TX; Anaheim, CA; Fairfield, CA; Columbia, SC (twice!); a conference in western PA; and another in western NY. And she's got a second trip to Louisville planned for March.

I'm thinking it's time to pack my bags, load the Tundra with stuff to be delivered to relatives and head west. A grand road trip may be just what I need. (It would be better with the RV but that's frozen in at the moment.) Milwaukee, Portland, Fairfield, and Anaheim seem to be in order. Then maybe San Diego, the Big Bend country of Texas as well as the Texas Gulf Coast. Then on over to Florida and a stop at my cousins' house. before turning north to Columbia, SC. I could do with a stop along the Delaware coast and even the Atlantic City area before returning to the Aerie.

The goal would be to deliver things from Mom's house, visit with relatives and friends, and do lots and lots of birding. In warmer(?) climates.  I figure it would be a trip of about 8K miles and perhaps five to six weeks.

I've a doctor's appointment on Monday for my frostbitten finger, an Audubon meeting Wednesday night (not mandatory!) and nothing until the end of March.

Hmmm. Sounds doable.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Aerie Report: Week...Whatever

Sheesh, almost two weeks since I last posted anything here. Call me a slacker and I won't deny it.

Terry came back from visiting in South Carolina and we had our closing on the four acres. We are now owners of 21 contiguous acres on the mountain. The new lot is the flatest of all and should provide a suitable place to park the RV once the previous owner removes his truck camper when things thaw.


We traveled into NJ to clear out the last of the things we wanted from Mom's house. Pictures on the wall, towels, bedding, a few pieces of furniture, TV and VCR, etc. Some of it went to the second hand shop, some went into clothing/cloth bins, and some we kept.


Terry wasn't home more than a few days when we got the call that her cousin passed away, so Terry headed south once more for the funeral. She swung though NJ on her way home to sign over power of attorney to her lawyer so she wouldn't have to rush to NJ again for any closing that may happen...sometime...hopefully soon. The hangup is the report on the extend of soil contamination from the old oil tank. That should be finished today or tomorrow. The purchaser's attorney is concerned that their won't be enough money set aside for the clean-up. Terry has told him that ALL of the purchase price will be in escrow until it's cleaned up but he's still not buying it.


While Terry was gone, I went to see the doctor about my frost bitten fingers. Three of the four are almost back to normal. At the time, the middle finger, the one that had all the huge honking blisters, the mummified and dry gangrenous diagnosis still had some thick dead skin over most of the final joint and a very black fingernail. Some of the thick stuff had already peeled off and the doctor said that if the rest wanted to come off I should let it go. Well, in the next two days, the rest did come off and I was pleasantly surprised to see how pink the underlying skin was. And I could feel things with the very tip! I may not lose anything except the fingernail after all.


I also had to go to get the Tundra serviced. The dashboard light saying it was due for maintenance came on. No surprise since the odometer indicated it was time for an oil change. But, at 100K + there were other things that needed to be done, too. That $30 oil change ended up costing over $500 but the beast needed and deserved the TLC. (I still won't take it to the car wash, though. With any thaw we'll be in yet another Mud Season.)


Also, while Terry was gone, we got a beaut of a snowstorm. Overnight we had a foot of light powder that I spent all afternoon clearing from the driveway and deck. I needed all my tools to get those areas (and the Tundra) cleared. The snow thrower got used to clear a path for the tractor. The tractor's front bucket got the snow over the edge of the driveway and all the parking area down to (nearly) bare ground. It also was handy in getting rid of the huge pile of snow the town plow left at the end of the drive. The broom got the snow off the Tundra's roof and the shovel got the close in stuff around the vehicles where the thrower and tractor couldn't go as well as the stuff on the deck. It "only" took me six hours to do the work. (Knees did well with the labor!)


Joe and I got down to the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg on Friday. The only thing we really wanted to do was book a fishing trip with Caesar's North Camps for this summer yet we spent over three hours walking around looking at all the exhibits and talking to a few venders. We made a few donations to the NRA-ILA and Hunter United For Sunday Hunting, too. Joe ended up purchasing some gun cleaner that didn't smell like Hoppe's #9. (His wife just doesn't like that odor for some reason.) Gunzilla actually has a very faint floral aroma. We also traveled over to Cabela's where Joe picked up some primers to reload pistol ammo. I looked at some gun safes but passed on buying one knowing that it wouldn't be until spring that I could actually get it into the basement because of all the snow drifts/piles that are in the way. (Knees did well with all the walking!)


The "birds that I've seen" count has improved slightly. A pair of Downy Woodpeckers have appeared at the deck feeders at the Aerie. Usually they are winter travelers with the Chickadees, Titmice and Nuthatches, but they have been few and far between this winter. On our way to Harrisburg and back, Joe and I saw a pair of Bald Eagles along Route 322 and the Susquehanna River, a Turkey Vulture east of the city along Route 22 and a flock of Canada Geese along Route 61. And, this past Saturday, Terry and I saw a flock of English Sparrows over in Wellsboro when we went to the ski shop to get a really good (and expensive!) pair of mittens to protect my hands from the cold.


The temperatures have continued to range from near zero all the way "up" to the mid 20s. We got another inch of snow last night--the second such snowfall since the Big One on Tuesday-Wednesday. I have to go out with the shovel to get things down to stone again. Just let me have another cup of coffee and give the sun a chance to get above the trees on the hill.

There doesn't appear to be anything significant in the forecast for the next week or so. Hopefully they are on the money with that and the predicted rise in temperatures for next week. Looking at the rivers as Joe and I drove around on Friday, I sure hope things warm up and thaw before we get any heavy rains. There's lots of ice on the rivers and ice dams could created significant flooding if the water doesn't flow free before the runoff from melted snow/rain occurs.

The first person to complain about the heat this summer is going to get it! POW! ZOOM!