Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Goin' Green! With Cap & Trade

Damn thing is cute and makes the point apparently missed by 219 Representatives.

Pardon me while I puke.

(Lifted from Denny.)


Was awakened very early this morning by the *^*&%&^$* chipping sparrows. How early? Try 3:45 AM! I suppose the sky was starting to get lighter...or maybe the *#^$%&^%#&^$@ bird saw a lightning bug and thought it was the sun. Whatever the case, the sound of the "police whistle" being blown outside my window brought me out of a deep, sound slumber to which I never returned.

You know what? There's no snooze button on a singing bird. Trust me on this. We used to have mockingbirds when we lived in Dover, NJ that loved the horse chestnut outside our window. They sing the same &^^%$ song over and over again...during the night, too. At least back then, when we were first married, there were pleasant enough reasons to wake up during the middle of the night.

Sigh. I'd sooner be awakened by an owl or a pack of coyotes.

I had been jarred from my sleep--and continuously harassed to get the hell up--by one of the smallest (but loudest) of feathered critters not to have "hummingbird" in its name. I surrendered and rolled out of bed at 6 AM.

Breakfast soon followed and then a swift check of the ATV. (Tire seemed to be holding air--but it did that earlier in the month too. The engine turned over after a little coaxing--not surprising since the fuel had been shut off and it needed to feed through the system. Ran it for two minutes and then turned off the choke and it kept purring right along for another three minutes before I turned it off.) Packed my gear in the truck, drank the milk and OJ, ate the ice cream, washed the dishes, turned off the water heater and pump, and hit the road for the Aerie. It was only 8:30 AM.


Turns out the *&^$*^#^%&^% bird did me a favor. Traveling west on the NY Thruway, I started hitting rain around Syracuse. That continued to the Geneva/Route 14 exit and all the way down the west shore of Seneca Lake. At times it rained so hard that my visibility dropped to a mere 30 yards and I reduced speed from 55 mph to less than 30 mph despite having no one in front of me.

The entire time, the weather being given over the radio was for "scattered showers" I had continuous "scattered showers" for more than two-and-a-half hours and 150 miles. I take that back. It did stop raining while I drove through the village of Watkins Glen at the south end of Seneca Lake. Took me all of 5 minutes to do that including two stop lights.

Made it to the Aerie by 1 AM and, lo and behold, the rain stopped as I parked the truck. The sun even emerged for a couple of hours and the temperature--which had been 63 degrees all the way home--rose to 70 degrees. Didn't last. By 4 o'clock there was a distant rumble of thunder to the southwest and by 4:30 the sky had opened up once again and it was pouring. Now, at nearly 5:30 there's blue sky to the west and dark, threatening clouds to the southwest. Guess from whence the wind is blowing? Yeah, the southwest. And it's blowing very, very slowly.

Oh well, it should end later this evening before firing up again tomorrow when there's supposed to be a 60% chance of scattered showers and T-storms on Wednesday and again on Thursday. At least that's what they say.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bolt Hole Monday Evening Report

Spent almost the entire day inside reading and doing crossword puzzles. Not that the weather was bad, 'cause it wasn't. After a fitful morning of showers and chilly winds, the sun finally made an appearance around noon and remained present most of the day. A passing shower or two still soaked the ground in the mid to late afternoon, but the sun predominated. Why, it even sent the temperature soaring all the way up to 68 degrees as measured by my primitive, bi-metal, analog thermometer mounted in the shade of the north side of the cabin. A veritable heat wave!

Why wasn't it this cool when I had work to do?


It's back to the Aerie tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. First I'll have to finish up the milk and OJ and the last of the butter pecan ice cream and do the dishes which have accumulated in the sink. I'll check to see if the ATV's tire has held air. (It didn't do so in the interval between my visits but I had brought the air compressor for just such an eventuality.) I'll probably also see if the engine will turn over. The garage is a virtual terrarium since the front part of the roof leaks when it rains. Moisture condenses on every metal piece in there. I had to drain the lawn mower's carburetor and change the gasoline in the tank three times on Friday before it would start. Didn't have the any problems with the brish hog, however. It turned over on the first pull of the cord.


So it'll be back to the Aerie and my wi-fi connection for about two weeks. Then back to the Bolt Hole to do some more lawn work and fix the garage roof.

Man, this retirement is harder than it looked on paper!

Bolt Hole Report, dreary Monday edition

I spent the better part of Sunday running the brush hog through the orchard and fields cutting down the tall grasses, invasive bush honey suckle and Labrador tea that has grown in the old pasture and beneath the "old" apple trees. I say "old" apple trees because what are growing up as trees now were actually the growths from the rootstock of the long gone apple trees of days gone by. These are long and stringy things as a result of starting out amidst lots and lots of shade. Mark and I have pruned them mercilessly to get them to resemble real trees and some of them show promise for the future now that they're getting plenty of sunlight. Others are low shrubby growths not more than a foot or so in height due to wild pruning by mice and snowshoe hares.

The brush hog may have been self propelled but it doesn't have a reverse so I had to wrestle with it frequently to maneuver about the trees and get as much of the brush as possible. And in 90% relative humidity, that meant I was sweating much of the day--a lot. I would work for an hour or an hour and a half and then take a break to change my hat and shirt and suck down a bottle of Gatorade and another of water before going back out to do battle once more. And every time I went past the garage I would play peek-a-boo with the ground hog. (Obviously I made a clean miss the other evening.) It's got more than one entry hole to its refuge beneath the garage workshop. The thundering sound of the brush hog firing up would scare the daylights out of it and it would pop out of one of the holes only to pop back in when I rounded the corner. I never saw it when I had the .22 in hand, however, so it will live for yet another day.


An overnight rain fell while I was sleeping but there was only an overcast sky when the birds woke me at 6 AM. The thermometer registered 50 degrees at that time and when I checked the weather.com site the radar showed no precipitation in the area. But, with the relative humidity still at 90% and the dew point at 60 degrees at their nearest weather station, it wasn't long before the Bolt Hole experienced a shower. It continues to threaten further rain as the morning progresses. A chilly, damp Monday morning all around.


Speaking of birds waking me up.... I've a few more to add to the list I presented yesterday. First is the ruffed grouse that wandered into the yard probably to feast on the ripe wild strawberries my mowing exposed. It didn't stay long when it saw me but only walked off into the brush to find a perch from which it commenced drumming. Then there's the broad-winged hawk that circled overhead in the afternoon. I've also heard yellow warblers calling from the fields and last night a great horned owl sounded off around 10 PM.

And then there's the chipping sparrows. The loud, annoying chipping sparrows. The ones that call repeatedly from sunrise to sunset in their monosyllabic trill. The ones that sound like a slowly blown police whistle. How such a small bird can make such a loud call and do so so frequently is beyond me. Take a whistle--the P-shaped kind with the little cork or plastic pellet inside. Now take a deep breath and blow into that whistle slowly so it juuust flutters that little pellet and produces a sound. And repeat that over and over all day long. That's the chipping sparrow. I know it has to stop some time to eat but, Lord almighty, when?

One thing's for certain: With a chipping sparrow outside your open window you have no need for an alarm clock! You're going to be awakened as soon as the sky starts to lighten--even if it's only 4:30 AM.

At least I haven't any white-throated sparows around. They even sing in the middle of the night.


Terry called last night from the Aerie to report another visit from Mr. Bruin. This time he came up on the deck at 7 PM to see if he could get the hummingbird feeder before she brought it inside. She had been sitting in her sewing room watching TV when she decided to bring the feeders in. Rounding the corner to the kitchen/dining area, she spotted his fat rear end outside the open screen door as he made his attempt. Needless to say, she slammed the sliding glass door closed which frightened the bear off into the woods where he sat and watched as she brought the two feeders in from the deck rail. For a critter as big as he is (I estimate him to be around 180 pounds) he moved silently enough that he got across the yard and onto the deck despite the window in the sewing room, which faces the area of approach, being open.

Another week or two and the raspberries will be ripe and he'll stop coming around--I hope. Meanwhile, I may have to stock up on some fireworks or see if there's anyplace that sells rubber 12-gauge slugs just to teach this guy a lesson.

UPDATE: Almost forgot the black-capped chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches that have been bouncing about in the pine and fir trees.

UPDATE 2: Let's also add a yellow-bellied sapsucker and a barred owl to the list.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bolt Hole Report, Saturday evening edition

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain and thought my grass cutting would have to be postponed. The birds didn't seem to mind and they forced me to get out of bed at 7 AM to have breakfast and that magic elixir called coffee. By the time I was through the rain had stopped and in an hour or so I was able to get outside and start mowing. The first task was to cut the area around the barn and around the cabin which I had not done the last day I was here. The grass had grown quite tall in the two plus weeks since it was last done and there were lots of tiny little wild strawberries that I was tempted to pick. If I had stopped to do the picking I would never get the grass cut however so I ignored the tasty treat beneath my feet and got on with the cutting.

About three hours into the chore and when I was nearly finished, one of the predicted scattered showers caught up with me. The mower ran out of fuel at the same time so I parked it in the garage and took a break for lunch. By one o'clock the rain had stopped and I was refueled myself so it was back to mowing. The backyard got finished and I started in on the 50-yard shooting lane and the apple orchard area known as phase one. I normally use the brush hog on the trails and woodland areas but the lane and phase one area are pretty much all grass now after several years of being brush hogged. I kept at it until the second tank of fuel ran out. All tolled I spent over six hours pushing the mower around and there's still some of the apple orchard that needs mowing and phase two and three require some brush hog work. At least the brush hog is self-propelled.


While mowing the yard I avoided mincing two very large toads, one small wood frog and two garter snakes. The toads were tea-cup sized critters that had enough sense to get out of the way while I moved through the tall grass. One of them ducked into a hole in the foundation of the cabin that I thought was being used by mice and such. It seemed to know that hole was there as it traveled across three yards of grass to get to it and did so iin a direct line. One of the garter snakes measured around 18 inches and was as big and round as a broom handle. That puts it near the top of the measurements for such a snake. Clearly an old timer.

You see stories about the garter snake dens in Canada that house thousands of snakes over the winter. I wonder where my snakes go when the snow starts flying?


I've got at least one ground hog on the premises. I saw it last time I was here and took several shots at it using the .22 only to miss. I discovered then that the rifle scope was way off and my shots were going a foot wide to the left at a mere 25 yards. I fixed that and felt confident that The whistle pig's days were numbered. Saw it heading down the alley between the garage and barn this morning when I was going out the door to start mowing and grabbed the rifle. I snuck up on it and snapped off one 20-yard shot that I thought connected but the darn woodchuck dove under the back end of the garage instead of having the decency of dying out in the open. Now I'm hoping I actually missed since the smell of a rotting, fat ground hog under the floor of the workshop that forms the back of the garage is not a pleasant thought.

This evening I spotted another (possibly the same) ground hog behind the shed on the opposite side of the yard. Unfortunately it spotted me before I could get a shot off and ducked under the floor of the shed! There are also signs of something digging under the wall of the cabin and into the crawl space beneath the living room.

In the past we've had foxes living under the garage and under the house. While their toilet manners could have been better--they left their scat all over the gravel floor of the garage and it had to be shoveled out regularly--at least they ate mice.


One thing that is obvious so far is that the temperatures here at the Bolt Hole have not been very high. If they had been int he 80s for several days to a week then the black flies would not be nearly as active as they are. And, oh boy! are they active! The Cutters I've been using (25% DEET) seems to be doing its job, however, and I've not got one bite...yet. Of course, the frequent rain up here may also have something to do with the black flies being so active. The deer flies haven't been as abundant as they were the beginning of the month. Still, I don't go outside without first donning a longsleeve shirt, tucking my pants into my boots and spraying myself with repelent. A hat and neckerchief are also a must as well as long gloves that cover the wrist.


I arrived at the Bolt Hole at 1 PM on Friday. Since then I've seen and heard all manner of bird life despite having the mower running for nearly nine hours. Wild turkey, woodcock, robins, catbirds, ruby-throated hummingbirds, flicker, phoebe, mourning doves, common yellowthroat, blue jays, ravens, crows, wood thrush, dark-eyed juncos, and cedar waxwings have all been around the place. I haven't seen any deer but there are lots of tracks in the mud in the wet spots out in the woods. No bear either.


Terry has reported that she will now be bringing in the hummingbird feeder from the deck at the Aerie because a bear got up there last night and destroyed the one we had hanging right in front of the door. She didn't see it in action but found the feeder on the ground this morning. Seems like every time I leave Terry alone at the Aerie and head for the Bolt Hole, she gets company.


9-1 last night and currently 5-0 in the sixth inning tonight. I really do not wish to talk about the Mets vs. Yankees.

Friday, June 26, 2009

At the Bolt Hole...again

After the bird walk yesterday morning Terry and I did a little gardening. All the spinach we planted has been picked so we put some more lettuce seed down in that little plot. I then weeded and fertilized around the string beans and tomatoes. We put in just four tomato plants--2 cherry tomatoes and 2 regular eating tomatoes--and all are doing well and have flowers on them. We also have a half dozen "volunteers" from the compost I put in the beds. They must be seedlings from the roma tomatoes I canned last fall. don't know if they will produce any fruit for us but I'm encouraging them to do so.


This morning I packed my gear in the truck and headed up to the Bolt Hole to do a little grass cutting. The trip up was uneventful except for the few showers I ran into along the way. The weather quacks predict that scattered showers may be something I'll have to deal with as I cut the grass around the house and in the apple orchard over the next few days. I managed to get the front yard cut before a light sprinkle ended my cutting for today.


Despite having an injury list as long as their opening day roster, the Mets are just 1/2 game behind the Phillies for first place in the NL East. Tonight they start a home series against the hated cross town rival *ack spit* Yankees who are four games back of the Red Sox.


Did a bird walk yesterday morning down along the bike path in the Lambs Creek Recreation Area north of Mansfield. There were six of us on the walk and we came up with 36 species of birds in just about 2 1/2 hours. After all the rain we've been having it was good to get out and about with some friends.

Location: Lambs Crk Rec Area
Observation date: 6/25/09
Notes: We started at the boat ramp parking lot and walked the road and bike path to the south before turning around and heading back. The weather was clear with little breeze and temperatures ranging from 60 to 72 degrees.
Number of species: 36

Wood Duck X
Mallard X
Great Blue Heron X
Turkey Vulture X
Spotted Sandpiper X
Mourning Dove X
Belted Kingfisher X
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker X
Northern Flicker X
Eastern Wood-Pewee X
Least Flycatcher X
Eastern Phoebe X
Eastern Kingbird X
Warbling Vireo X
Red-eyed Vireo X
American Crow X
Common Raven X
Tree Swallow X
Tufted Titmouse X
Carolina Wren X
Veery X
Wood Thrush X
American Robin X
Gray Catbird X
Cedar Waxwing X
Yellow Warbler X
Common Yellowthroat X
Scarlet Tanager X
Song Sparrow X
Swamp Sparrow X
Northern Cardinal X
Rose-breasted Grosbeak X
Indigo Bunting X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Baltimore Oriole X
American Goldfinch X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)

The Baby Boomers Battle Hymn

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Universal" Healthcare? No!

This little bit of news needs to be disbursed wide and far.

From the Wall Street Journal article titled Dissecting the Kennedy Health Bill

by Betsy McCaughy

Last September Sen. Barack Obama promised that under his health-care proposal "you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves." On Monday, President Obama repeated that promise in a speech to the American Medical Association. It's not true.

The president is barnstorming the nation, urging swift approval of legislation that is taking shape in Congress. This legislation -- the Affordable Health Choices Act that's being drafted by Sen. Edward Kennedy's staff and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee -- will push Americans into stingy insurance plans with tight, HMO-style controls. It specifically exempts members of Congress (along with federal employees; the exemptions are in section 3116).

That's right. The fine folks in Congress have written an exemption for themselves and other federal employees (most likely judges, cabinet officials, etc. and not the vast number of blue and white collar workers) into the health bill so they can continue to enjoy the exemplary health care they currently have. You won't be able to do the same. The subtitle of the article is "No, you won't be able to keep your insurance if you like it." The name of the bill is a lie, too. "The Affordable Health Choices Act" is ain't! There will be damn few "choices" for We The People.

It is reasonable to require that people who accept a government subsidy for health insurance tolerate cost controls to protect taxpayers. But according to the terms of the Kennedy bill, you must enroll in a "qualified" plan or face a fine, even if you and your employer are paying the entire cost of the plan you already have (section 161).

The president has promised that if you like your plan you can keep it. Mr. Kennedy's bill says that too. It's doubletalk, as the consequences of nonenrollment make clear. How big a fine will you face? The bill doesn't specify or set a limit. It says the fine will be enough to "accomplish the goal of enhancing participation in qualifying coverage" (section 161).

So, if you like the plan you have but it is not on the "qualified" list, you may be fined. Even though you have health coverage and the government isn't paying a dime for it!

This bill needs to be drowned in the bathwater and then thrown out.

And every idiot on the Hill who votes for this exemption and/or the final bill needs to be tarred, feathered and carried out of town on a rail.

It's getting to the point when investment in lead may indeed be wise and possibly necessary.

(h/t commenter Jim B. over at Don Surber's)

Aerie Report, June 20

Not a heck of a lot to report from the Aerie the last few days. It's been raining...a lot. It's been cool...a lot. It's been breezy...somewhat. And it's supposed to be that way for a couple of more days.


We have had two visits from a bruin in the last four days. One evening (Wednesday? Thursday? they're starting to run together) it was raining hard as the sun set and I left the bird feeders out rather than get wet. The next morning one had been pulled down and the other emptied of every single seed. Since puling the feeder down required actually breaking the wire loop on which it was hung, I assumed it was a bear. Then tonight, we did get to see the bruin as it came to the feeder that remained just as I came up stairs from the basement to bring it in. It was a small bear of about 180 pounds--quite possibly a two year old. Terry says it's the smaller of the two she had come by while I was up at the Bolt Hole. "The other is three times the size," she said. And she had told me it was a mom and her cub? More likely it's two males just hanging out together. Anyway, I'll be whistling and clapping when I go out to pick up the feeders the next couple of nights. Just in case there's something in the brush or around the corner.


We signed a contract with a local to cut some hardwoods on our property. The money will come in handy but more importantly, as far as I was concerned, was the opening of the forest canopy, the removal of marketable white ash before the emerald ash borer (it's been spotted two counties to the west) gets to them, and the creation of one more logging skidway on my steep-sloped land. This new one will connect two existing skidways and cut across the face of a hill along which there has been deer movement in the past. When they get done, I'll be throwing some clover and other seed along that road and the others the equipment is likely to tear up. Plus, the loggers will be leaving the tops of the trees where they fall. The larger pieces will make good firewood next summer and the leaves on them now will be instant deer food. Or. at least the would be if it wasn't for the fact that the neighbors are also getting their property logged by the same crew so there will be lots of tree tops down in the surrounding 100 acres or so.


There's a rumor that tomorrow is officially the First Day of Summer. I hope it's true. So far we haven't seen much in the way of summer-like weather. One week back in the beginning of May and that was it. I got a laugh today when I checked the Old Farmers Almanac and reread their prediction for June in the Appalachian area (#3) which stretches along the mountains up passed Elmira, NY. It said we were to be warmer than normal (+3-5 degrees) and drier than normal (-1 inch). So far, at least for our area, their magic formula is a big 0-2 for the month of June.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jam, Jam, Jam...The end...for now.

Checked the fluidity (is that a real word?) of the jam this morning and found it about the same as the blue and lack berry stuff I made last year. Not perfect but serviceable. It'll do.

To sum up. Over the last few days I managed to turn this:

Eight quarts of nice ripe strawberries.

into this:

Seventeen Pints of Strawberry Jam (plus one in the fridge)

I told Terry to keep her eyes open for good fresh strawberries when she goes to WallyWorld or stops at one of the roadside stands she passes. (I got mine out at Pagomar west of Wellsboro.) I'd still like to freeze some slices and, perhaps, try a small batch of jelly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Strawberry Jam progress: the outcome

Okay, I chickened out and added some pectin to the mix of strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice as I was boiling it for the final time. It just didn't seem thick enough to me to gel properly.

Even after that, the final product is somewhat runnier than normal jam. Perhaps it will thicken over night as it cools further. But then again, maybe not. Searching for a reason that all my jams do not gel the way they are supposed to, I poured over the directions in both books and those that came with the pectin. (Okay, TERRY reread all the directions. I'm a guy. We don't do directions. 'Kay?) In fine print off to one corner, Terry found this note: "Doubling of recipes may cause your jam/jelly not to gel properly." Of course I was doing far more than doubling the recipe which calls for just four cups of chopped berries, I had 28 cups for crying out loud! Doing this 7 times would have really, really stretched out the time needed, ya know?

Oh, and I didn't get the 24 pints I was expecting either. Far more liquid evaporated during the cooking process and sitting for 24 hours than I though might. I only ended up with 18 pints. Only one didn't seal properly even after a second run through the water bath. That one is in the fridge already. The other 17 will be heading into storage in the basement for future use on pancakes, waffles, toast, ice cream....

Answers about Strawberry Jam

I want to answer a couple of comments from my earlier post Strawberry Jam progress here, where everyone is able to see my answers since some folks don't read the comment sections and I think the answers are worthy of a separate post.


I'm trying a recipe that doesn't use the packaged pectin. (Although I may chicken out at the last minute and through a couple of packets in the pot so as to be sure it does actually gel.)

Actually, I'm using two recipes and fudging a bit toward the middle. The cook books they came from are:
Preserving the Fruits of the Earth by Stanley Schuker and Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler and
The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. They differed in the amount of sugar to add so I sorta split the difference.

Neither has any recipes for making doggie snacks, however, so Scout is likely to be disappointed.


Whether I'm at the Aerie in PA or up at the Bolt Hole in the southwest Adirondacks, we seem to share very similar weather with your North View Dairy in the Mohawk Valley. The weather quacks say we may actually get a break in the weather--during the day--otherwise, we've got the same rains here in the Northern Tier of PA. Not enough of a break to do any haying, I'm sure, but any sunshine would be appreciated.

After eating every strawberry that came my way last spring either in strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, sliced strawberries on cereal or over vanilla ice cream, etc., I decided to make jam this year.

I made apple sauce, blackberry jam, blueberry jam, and tomato sauce last fall. Some went out as special gifts for Christmas and some got happily eaten here. I've a little left--just enough to get me through to fall. Oh, plus we're finally finishing up the zucchini and pumpkin breads that were in the freezer. Of course, if it warms up for a week or two, the zukes will be producing by the middle of July so it will be back to baking breads, grilling zucchini, boiling zucchini, zucchini salad, etc.

The jars are washed and ready to be sterilized. I had to discard five of my original thirty. They were saved from commercial jars of spaghetti sauce and looked usable until I noticed the lip of the jar was too tall and the darn rings wouldn't bite into the threads. That still leaves me with 25 pint jars which should be enough.

I'll have to put the big water bath kettle on the stove when we sit down to dinner. It will take a loooong time for the propane to heat up and bring to a boil the two gallons or so of water. About 7 PM I'll be heating up the jam mix one final time before it goes into the jars. Which then go into the water bath a final ten minutes finish cooking, sterilize and to seal. It's going to be a busy evening but at least working over the stove will mean warmth.

UPDATE: Friday morning and I discover I read the weather forecast incorrectly. The Aerie will, indeed, get the same sloppy, rainy, foggy, thunderstorm laden atmospheric conditions as the Northview Dairy. Yeeech!

Strawberry Jam progress

It took me an hour to hull and quarter the 8 quarts of strawberries yesterday morning. Actually quite a few had to be cut into eighths they were so large. Happily I only had to discard two or three damaged or over ripe berries from the entire flat.

I ended up with 28 cups of strawberry chunks to which I added 21 cups (almost 10 pounds!) of sugar. That mix sat for the balance of the day with me stirring it occasionally to get the sugar all dissolved. It's really amazing how much liquid that sugar pulled out of the berries!

After dinner, I brought the mix to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to assure it didn't burn on the bottom of the pot. Then I added one and three-quarter cups of lemon juice and brought the mix to a boil again over high heat for five minutes. This required lots of rapid stirring and a little scooping to keep the foam that was being produced from overflowing the pot like Mt. Etna.

When five minutes was up, I removed the mix from the heat and it has been sitting and will continue to sit until after dinner tonight. Then I will heat it again and bring it to a boil before ladling it into pint jars and put them through a water bath. I've got 30 pint jars that I'll be washing for the canning process. I don't think I'll need them all, but I will likely get two dozen filled with home made strawberry jam.

Since I already had the jars and lids needed for this process, the cost will be just what I paid for the strawberries ($26), sugar ($4.50) and lemon juice ($2.00) plus my time and effort (priceless--or maybe worthless). That will come to about $1.50 per pint. Well worth the effort, if you ask me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aerie Report

Terry and I moseyed on down to Mansfield today to have lunch at the Black Swan Cafe and to pick up my 2009-2010 hunting license at Cooper's Sporting Goods next door. As luck would have it, The Swan is closed on Tuesdays.

Cooper's was open, however and I dropped my old license on the counter along with my driver's license and $65.80 and walked out with my Resident Adult Hunting ($20.70), Archery ($16.70), Muzzleloader ($11.70), and Resident Bear ($16.70) licenses and the associated tags for antlered deer, fall and spring turkey and black bear. I passed on the elk tag raffle. (There's only about a dozen or so of those awarded every year.) It's tough enough to get a few folks together to help haul out a bear right here near home. The elk are only found about 100 miles to our west.

Now all I have to do is read the manual--again--to see if there have been any changes and send in my application for a doe tag.


We did get lunch. Over in Wellsboro at a pizza place where they make excellent chicken parm subs on a pita-like bread. Only the bread is better. More like pizza dough. Delicious!


We were in Wellsboro to go to the library and then an art show at the Gemeiner. All the artists were from the area. (I think the one living furthest away was from Elmira.) There were pencil (graphite) drawings, computer generated graphics, water colors and oils. After viewing all the works (about 100) we had to choose the one we like the best. It was tough! Terry narrowed her selections down to about half a dozen as did I--some even overlapped, such as the oil of an old Agway building. It was quite good! I finally settled on an oil rendition of an Alaskan valley in which you could see the mist rising up the slopes above the river.

I have no idea which on Terry eventually settled upon as her "Best of Show." She kept walking back and forth to change the angle at which she was viewing three of her final six. I think she picked a winter scene that made you want to don a sweater.


We stopped for ice cream on the way home at Pagomar's just west of Wellsboro off Route 287 and across the highway from the train depot. The trains run up and down the valley through Cowenesque. There are dining outings as well as straight sight-seeing train rides. The trains are run and maintained by volunteers. At 3:00 PM it looked like they were going to have a nice crowd for their afternoon excursion.

You are never far from an ice cream parlor here in Tioga County, PA. Some sell Hershey's, some sell Perry's and some make their own. They are all delicious and extremely reasonable in price. Terry made the mistake last year of ordering a regular cup of ice cream from Pagomar's when they opened for the first time. Today she got the baby cone and was more than satisfied. They have a doggy serving too which is even smaller.


Pagomar also had flats of strawberries for sale and I just couldn't resist the 8 quarts of berries. It will mean work tomorrow and Thursday. I'm trying a recipe that does not require pectin but will require time. Lots of time.

  • Tomorrow (Wednesday), I'll wash, hull and cut up the berries before mixing them with sugar.
  • They will sit all day with an occasional stirring before I put them on the stove to cook.
  • They will get brought to a boil over medium heat, have some lemon juice added and brought to another boil.
  • Then they will then sit for 24 hours.
  • Thursday I'll be washing and sterilizing pint jars until, in the evening,
  • I'll bring the berry mix to a boil one last time for five minutes before ladling it into the jars.
  • Which will then go into a water bath for ten minutes to seal them.
It's a different sort of recipe than I used last year with the blackberries and blue berries. The both used pectin. Still, both the B & B jams came out a little runnier than I like. They make great thick syrups, however. I'll let you know how this batch of strawberry jam comes out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Motorcycle accident(s)

Terry checked the news today to see if she could learn about the motorcycle accident that delayed her trip home yesterday. She discovered that there were actually two of them on I-80 in NJ yesterday afternoon. One occurred east of where she entered I-80 and had a NJ man running into the back of a dump truck. The other, the cleanup of which she witnessed, had a PA man losing control of his bike on a curve, hitting a guard rail, going airborne and striking a tree. Both accidents were fatal.

Random thoughts

We've got one stinking rose bush (a Sub-Zero variety) here at the Aerie. We'd have more but we only bought the one at Agway last year and they haven't carried them since. Just as well. Something, probably a deer, has found it irresistible. Last summer we had over a half a dozen buds all swelling nicely and juuussst getting ready to burst when--WHAM!--a midnight raider came through and ate ever last one of them. Twice already this spring the plant has been hit by some noshing critter. What is semi-frustrating about it is that we though the damage done last summer had sapped the poor things strength and that the very cold winter had, perhaps, been the end of the thing. The stem that appeared when the snow melted seemed weak and frail. You could wiggle it about as if there was no root system at all. Yet, just as I was ready to pull it out of the ground, the darn thing started to produce shoots. It followed that up with buds. Which promptly led to something coming in and...well...nipping it in the bud. Short of building a fence four feet high and at least three feet in radius around this little survivor, I'm not sure what all I can do to protect it yet still enjoy any blossom that might appear.


We had a thunderstorm sweep down out of the northwest last night just after Terry got back from NJ. She had a great time at the wedding shower, BTW. She would have been home sooner but there was a motorcycle accident on I-80 in NJ around mile post 11. She only saw a crumbled up bike on a flatbed trailer and a tarp covering what she assumed to be a body. There was blood everywhere on the highway she says. No sign of a second vehicle. It took her over an hour to cover about a mile through the accident zone.

Anyway, back to the weather.... After the T-storm, the temperatures dropped like a stone and we ended up with a low of about 48 degrees this morning. The valley was shrouded in fog which gives the impression of a white river running down there along US Highway Route 6. To the north and east it was the same story with Corning and Elmira, New York experiencing dense fog. The temperature is supposed to get back up to just over 70 degrees this afternoon and with the sun currently shining brightly that may indeed happen. The forecast for the remainder of the week might have come out of Ground Hog Day (the movie). Every day is predicted to be exactly the same as yesterday and today right through the weekend. Sunny days with highs around 70 degrees and a chance of T-storms in the evening followed by lows around 50 over night.


Watching the Mets/Yankees game yesterday afternoon on YES network I kept thinking, "I rushed to cut the grass so I could watch this?" Well, at least the grass got cut. So I guess that's a positive.


After suffering through the Mets' humiliation, I sat on the deck and enjoyed one of the bottles of beer my son, Rick, gave me when we were out in Eugene for his wedding. (The smallest one. He had to be creative in bottling and I got a 16 oz bottle, a 20 oz bottle and a 32 oz bottle. I could have used the 32 oz when I was done burning at the Bolt Hole the other day. Might have made the cramps disappear--or at least I wouldn't have noticed.)

Rick has been doing some home brewing as a hobby for a couple of years. I guess his mycology classes sort of spurred him on (or maybe it was the tour in Iraq?). What ever the impetus, the results have been excellent. I got a six-pack for Christmas that was really smooth for a dark ale. And this batch has an incredibly fine finish with no bitter after bite. Oh, and the alcohol content may be a tad higher than your standard store-boughten stuff.


Pennsylvania will be putting it's 2009-2010 hunting licenses on sale today so I may have to wander down to the sport shop later. Doe tag applications will be accepted next week so it doesn't pay to put off purchasing your license. Cost of a resident license for rifle, bow, muzzle loader with a bear tag only set me back $60 last year. The fishing licenses this spring cost me another $20. Compare that to the $280 it cost me for a non-resident New York all around sportsman's tag that covers the same thing. And that's non-resident only because I don't vote there or pay their income taxes. I still pay county and school property taxes on the Bolt Hole's 34 acres...a bill that's higher than the county and property taxes at the Aerie (17 acres).


Time for another cup of coffee. Later.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

15-0 *sheesh*

That's the final score from Yankee Stadium.

The Mets had Johan Santana on the mound so you might think they came out on top. HA! Santana did not record an out in the fourth inning and was credited (?) with giving up 9 earned runs in his three official innings of work. It was Santana's worst outing in his major league career.

A.J. Burnett started for the Yanks. He went 7 innings and gave up just 4 hits.

The Yanks got a total of 17 hits today--the same number the Mets got yesterday--and were given 7 walks. However, today, the Yanks plated 15 runs. Matsui (off Santana) and Cano (off Stokes) each had 2-run homers in the fourth.

Today is Flag Day. The Mets could have used a white one.

Speaking of New York, New York...

Well now! The NY Mets did beat up upon the NY Yankees yesterday. They got an excellent start from Nieve and plated 6 runs in coming away with a 6-2 victory. The scary thing is they had 17 hits but only got 6 runs in that band box of a new Yankee Stadium. Should have had more--a lot more!

Omir Santos had a two run shot and Gary Sheffield had a solo home run--his second HR in two days--for the Mets. Alex Rodriguez had a solo shot for the Yanks.

They play again today at 1:05 PM EDT.

Strange commentary from Buck and McCarver. There have been only a half dozen or so players named "Fernando" in major league history yet the Mets started three of them yesterday: Tatis (1B), Martinez (SS) and Nieve (P).

Smart Car?

While driving along the NY Thruway yesterday I passed a Smart Car. Now I'm sure they get great mileage running on just three cylinders as they do, and this one seemed to be able to tool along quite nicely at 65-70 mph on the flat road, but--and there are actually a few "buts" involved here--it is extremely small. It makes my wife's Aveo and the daughter's Yaris look huge.

So small in fact that is the Smart Car that as I drove by in the Tundra I was tempted to pick it up, put it in the bed of the truck (and I've only got a 6' long bed) and take it home like one would a little lost kitten. I'm sure the semis on the highway could have easily fit a dozen or more in the back of their 53' long trailers. They could have been stacked like eggs in a carton.

I certainly hope the two women inside were very good friends. If they weren't before they set out, I'm sure they were by the time the ride ended.

How would this tiny little car handle travel in the mountains? Can it make it up a slope with as much as a 5% grade? What happens in a crosswind of 30 mph out on the plains? Does it become a new form of tumble weed due to its light weight, high (relatively speaking) profile and narrow little wheel base?

This might make a fine commuter car for an urban metroplex but out in the real world of North America...I don't think so. This is a case where Sinatra was dead wrong. It might make it in NYC but it certainly isn't going to make it everywhere.

(BTW The plates were from Massachusettes.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Too much water and not enough salts yesterday. I suffered (and that is the correct word for it) leg cramps (the hammy area of my thighs) and lower back spasms much of the night from the long day's work. My buddy Mark says I should have been eating bananas, but, hey! They don't grow on trees, ya know....at least not here in the Adirondacks.

I guess I'll have to stock up on some Gatorade before my next trip up here.

I will get (some of) the grass cut this morning before heading home to the Aerie. Scattered T-storms forecast for this afternoon at the Bolt Hole. Higher chance of same as I head south into the Southern Tier of NY and Northern Tier of PA.

Damn Yankees!

I see the Mets were just one out away from winning the game last night when Luis Castillo dropped a routine pop up that allowed the tieing and winning runs to score. Instead of an 8-7 winner, the Mets became a 9-8 loser.

I blame myself. I said I wouldn't turn off the computer until the game was over. I did. Was too sore and tired to pass on the shower and bed so I left the game after the Mets went ahead 8-7. I should have stuck it out. :-(

Man, what a lousy last three games.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bolt Hole Report

What a day! I am thoroughly and totally beat!

I spent all day as a pyromaniac burning Mt. Slashmore in the back yard. This was a pile of branches and tree limbs created when we opened up the apple orchard directly behind the cabin.

We had burned the previous Mt. Slashmore in March. That was a piece of cake as the ground still had nearly two feet of snow on it. No deer flies or black flies and the temperature was in the 30s. Today, not so much. The flies took advantage of any bare skin. The temperature was in the 60s and maybe even the 70s. (I was too busy to check and the fire was warm enough, thank you!)

After the heavy rains of the last day and a half and with little wind to speak of, it was a perfect day to burn, baby, burn! As Mark so gently reminded me in an email this morning.

The rain made getting the fire started a chore. I used an old refrigerator cardboard box and a couple of torches made from an old T-shirt and some highly flammable fluid that was not kerosene. Took almost $2 worth! When it finally did start to burn, I had to tend the flames like a mother hen. The slash had so many air pockets in it that it threatened to go out if I didn't constantly feed the beast.

But I got 'er done! Only took from about 10 AM until 8 PM but Mt. Slashmore II is nothing but an ash pit now.

Another nice thing about burning in March: the snow. To put the fire to rest at the end of the day only required shoveling snow from the surrounding area. Tonight I had to haul five gallon buckets of water from the cabin out to the fire pit about 50 yards away. Had to make several trips with a bucket in each hand. Man, that water is some heavy shit!

I'd go to take a shower and go to bed but the last two nights I turned off the computer when the Mets were ahead of the Phillies only to see the next morning that they had lost in extra innings. Tonight they are leading...oops...tied with the hated Yankees 7-7 in the seventh inning. I'm afraid to turn off the computer. (I just turned away for a few minutes and the score went from 6-4 Mets to 7-6 Yankees and now 7-7. Jeesh! Who is this guy Switzer, anyway?)

I may or may not cut the grass again tomorrow morning before heading back to the Aerie. Kinda depends upon how I feel in the morning.

Terry's off to NJ for a bridal shower tomorrow. She'll stay at her Mom's over night and be back to the Aerie on Sunday evening. The Aerie's grass needs cutting, she says. *sigh*

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Terry's had company.

Let's see.

Terry called last Monday (or maybe it was Tuesday) to say she had been awakened not by the cats' meows but by something in the yard huffing and puffing. She looked out the window to see a big doe standing looking at the raised bed garden in which we have onions, beans, lettuce and spinach growing. Apparently, the doe didn't like my having a screen over the lettuce and spinach. She raised her nose in the air and trotted off into the woods.

Then last night Terry called to say the raccoon had showed up again. That was actually something of a relief as the last time I saw it, I had put a pellet from the air rifle into the west end of the east bound critter just as it ducked under the shed. I figured it might be getting pretty ripe if the shot had turned fatal. Terry said it lit out like a bat out of hell when she opened the door so maybe it's learned a lesson.

Tonight she called to say she had more company. A sow bear and a yearling cub were at the bird feeders at 3:30 in the afternoon. She tried banging pots and pans together but the mama bear (Cindy?) just sat down a short distance into the woods to wait her out. Needless to say the feeders did not get taken in tonight. They did get emptied, however. And one of the metal poles got bent in the process.

Meanwhile all I've seen in the mammalian category are a ground hog and a chipmunk.

Bolt Hole Report

There's not much to report from the Bolt Hole unless you want to hear about how I've been mucking about in the mud along the ATV trails. Or, perhaps, how the weather (cool and damp) has been a boon to the local black fly population that sees me as their prime source of food. Or about the smallish thunderstorm that swept through the area at daybreak and woke me up with the deafening cacophony of rain drumming on the metal roof. There are more of those in the area as I write.

This is the longest I've stayed at the Bolt Hole this early in the summer season since we bought the place back in the '80s. Until 2004 I would have been in the classroom until the end of June and so would only get up here for a weekend that was usually spent cutting grass.

It's a nice time to be here with all the birds still singing and establishing/defending their territories and many of the flowers just starting to bud and open up. The hawkweed and daisies that I didn't mow are beginning to bloom and the invasive honey suckles yet to be cut down are in flower providing some nectar for the hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees. I missed the apple blossoms but can see where the bees did their job and the swollen bases of the flowers are becoming young apples. The black cherries have just finished their blooming and the lawn was littered with the white petals from their flowers for a few days. The pines that are still standing have three or four inch candles of new growth and, when it's dry, emit a cloud of pollen when brushed against or wind shaken. The woods are all green and the bugs haven't done much damage to the leaves...yet.

The side of the cabin has a mall flower garden planted by the former owners. There's lots of phlox and other flowers that are just starting to grow and there are some orange poppies that have huge flower buds already atop their stalks.
Poppies in the flower bed.

I stopped to admire them the other day and was immediately struck by their resemblance to Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. I half expected them to lean towards me and demand that I feed them.

While I stood there, a movement at my feet attracted my attention. I had stepped on--and pinned down--the tail of a small garter snake who was writhing in protest over my toes! I, of course, lifted my foot immediately and let it go on its way. It eats bugs and is, therefore, a friend.

Yeah, it's a nice time to be here except for the damn black flies. I've mentioned the Adirondack Air Force (AAF) before. The black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes and no-see-ums protect the land from the invasion of humans. If the AAF didn't do it's job properly, this place would be ideal for folks to settle. That is, if you could get any crops to grow in the short summer season. The last frost may be still to come and the first of fall may be as early as mid September.

The woods are still wet from the melting snow. Ephemeral springs and creeks are still running and that makes the low lying areas puddles of standing water and/or rich organic laden mud. The old skidways are rife with low lying areas. I tried to do some trenching along the sides of the trails only to run into obstacles in the form of glacially deposited stones--which I could pry out--and boulders which I could not and tree roots that formed natural dams. Whether my efforts will pay off or not is debatable. There are flat areas in the woods that also hold water at this time of year. They are usually boulder laden and runoff is prevented by the rotting trunks of fallen trees. Sometimes these areas develop into small sphagnum bogs if the source of water is long lasting enough. What water does flow across the surface is just as likely to disappear beneath the surface and wend its way amid the tangle of tree roots as it is to form a real stream.

I need to get myself some real boots, something waterproof. The boots I've been wearing aren't. They have been sponge-like in their affinity to water. The steel toes may be good for protecting against a fallen log (or 2 x 4) but the boot proper merely sieves the dirt out of the mud and allows the water to enter. After wearing them for a day of mucking about in the mud, my toes are all wrinkled and shriveled as if I'd been soaking them all day. The problem I have with waterproof boots is that they also tend to keep moisture in and my feet sweat--a lot. Even with waterproof boots, my toes would still end up shriveled and wrinkled. But, maybe, they would be warmer.

Today I'm just trying to stay dry--and let my boots air out.

Well, another thunderstorm is approaching so it's time to sign off. Talk to you later.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Time to chill

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

It's just a tad over 50 degrees this morning at 8:30 AM. It's supposed to get up to the mid 60s later. It rained pretty hard overnight and everything is soaking wet. They're still forecasting showers and T-storms in the area throughout the day. I know I said I could cut firewood between showers, but just getting to the damn downed trees would result in getting soaked until the brush dries a bit. Might be a good day to just hang in the cabin and do some house cleaning, reading or, like the kitteh pictured above, napping.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Bolt Hole Report

Another one of those "Bad News-Good News" kind of days here at the Bolt Hole.

First the darn birds sang me awake at 5 AM . If I get my hands on the early morning Robin, you can bet my size 10 boots will send his little butt just bob-bob-bobbing along!

After checking my email and having breakfast and a couple cups of joe, it was time to get to work.

Mark had warned me that one of the front tires of the ATV was low on air and he just couldn't get it to inflate properly using his "canned" air. (Actually an old propane tank adapted to hold compressed air.) I had packed my 150 psi compressor and (I thought) all the proper attachments. You know where this is going already, don't you. yeah, after unloading the compressor and attaching the hose, I reached for the attachment that would allow me to inflate the tire only to find out what I had in fact brought was just the pressure gauge. DOH! It's almost the same shape and size but it definitely was not what I needed. So, it was off to the hardware store to get an attachment. Of course the local hardware did not have what I needed and I ended up going all the way to Lowe's in Utica. An hour and a half shot. But, hey! Now I have TWO attachments with which I can inflate tires.

Back at the Bolt Hole I inflated the ATV tire to the proper pressure and fixed a flat on the wheel barrow while I was at it. Then, while I let the ATV sit to be sure the tire held pressure, I got the DR Brush Hog out to see if it was going to start. The gas tank was dry so I had some hope that the new gas I would be putting in it would be a plus. I half filled the tank, turned the choke on, put it on full throttle and pulled the starter cord. Then pulled it again and again. On the fourth or fifth pull, the engine roared to life. Hooray! For the next two hours I walked behind the brush hog as I cleared the area behind the barn and garage known as Phase 1 of the Apple Orchard Project. (I hit Phase 2 just a bit as well.) That area's about one acre of small spindly apple trees, a few crooked cherry trees and two or three Scotch pines that I haven't cut down...yet. The brush hog behaved beautifully.

Time for lunch and then it was the ATV's turn.

The tire was still inflated after several hours so I figured it was safe to head out into the woods with it. First I attached the trailer and filled it with debris Mark had raked up from the Phase 3 area. Lots of small branches and pine needles for the most part. I knew exactly where I was going to dump this stuff. One of the trails has a few wet spots on it that could use some firming up. A few years ago I had tried dumping debris from our NJ bathroom remodel there but the mud just absorbed the tile pieces. I really need to ditch the side of the trail but the rocks (actually boulders) make that very difficult. I made five trips with trailer fulls of debris down that trail and barely made a dent in filling the soft spots. And finding a place to turn the ATV and trailer around? HA! Try backing up between two fir trees that are juuuust far enough apart to fit the trailer. It was a challenge. And handle bars on the ATV made it even more so. With a steering wheel I can back up with the best of 'em. Handle bars? Feh. Not so much. Especially when you've got no rear view mirror. Luckily the trailer is light enough that when I got frustrated I could just pick the back end up and put it where I wanted it to be.

By 3:30 PM I figured I had done enough for the day. I was soaked with perspiration and Deep Woods Off. (Perhaps the former rather than the latter had more to do with why the bugs weren't attacking.) My water bottle was near empty and my get-up-and-go had run out on me.

Did I mention bugs? Sunny, warm, humid.... Perfect black fly weather for early June. Not bad for deer flies either. But today I wore long sleeves (white), gloves and a bandanna draped over my neck and held on by my hat. As long as I remembered to breath through my nose, I was okay. I could have donned the net bug suit, but that would have just snagged on the branches I was picking up and brushing against as I drove down the trail. The bug suit is great for cutting the lawn when there's little breeze to keep the flies away--even though a few still manage to get inside with you--but it's also surprisingly warm to wear.

The weather guys are saying 40% chance of showers tonight and 60% tomorrow. I can always cut firewood between the rain drops.

BTW. Today is my son's 26th birthday. Seems like only yesterday his mom was standing at he curb waiting for me to get home and take her to the hospital. I hope he and his wife have a good day out there in Eugene. Machinery

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Thoughts from the Bolt Hole

I realize that weather is not climate but still feel a need to point you in the direction of this post over at Watt's Up With That:

Dickinson ND sees first June snowfall in 60 years

And it is not an insignificant amount of snow, either. Read the whole thing and check out the links to more June snow in California, At Pikes Peak and in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Also read the comments. One mentions that the ski season in New Zealand is starting FIVE weeks earlier than normal.

Meanwhile it got down to 40 degrees over night here at the Bolt Hole (southwest Adirondack Park) and is still below 60 degrees at nearly 1 PM. It's overcast and sprinkling thought the weather.com quacks are saying there's only a 40% chance of showers. I might have to start a fire in the big stove if things don't warm up. It's supposed to get to near 70 degrees tomorrow when the sun returns. That's about what it was yesterday.

I spent some time in the woods with a shovel and mattock trying to improve the drainage along some of the old logging skidways I use as ATV trails. Ditches, moving rocks and logs, etc. all in the name of trails that won't swallow a tire and leave me perched with the skid plate on a rock when I need to haul wood and/or a deer out of the woods. I like to think positive thoughts when it comes to deer. I actually spotted some fresh tracks along the trails and the small creek out back.

Speaking of spotting animals.... Last evening after finishing the grass, I plopped down in front of the TV to watch the Belmont and the Dodgers-Phillies game. Both were exciting as all get out, with Summer Bird pulling off the same kind of upset as its sibling, Mind That Bird, did in the Kentucky Derby and the Dodgers pulling out a second consecutive walk-off victory over the Phils. This win took place in extra innings, to boot.

But the thing that was really unusual was the thud against the bottom pane of glass on the front door. When I looked over I caught a glimpse of a ground hog. It had to climb three steps to get that close to the glass and then actually banged against the glass. From the angle it couldn't be reacting to a reflection ao I've no idea what the heck it was trying to do. Maybe the deer flies were bugging it too, and it just wanted to get inside. I don't know but it sounds reasaonable. When I bought the place way back in the 1980s there was an old ground hog burrow along the side of the house. Not unusual since the place had been vacant for two years. I've never seen a ground hog up here since then. Perhaps our opening things up for the apple orchard has created an environment this whistle pig finds enticing. Oh, well. If he does set up home in the area, that means the coyote, fox, and fisher cat may get to dine on something new.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Oops! (On the truck.)
and At the Bolt Hole

Okay.... So it appears there was nothing wrong with the windshield at all. The winds of Wyoming didn't blow a gasket/molding off the top of the windshield because...well, there never was one there to begin with. It just looked like there should have been a gasket/molding there. I would feel foolish about that except:
1) The servicemen at the dealership didn't catch it either even after A) telling me that they couldn't find that part in the parts manual because B) they seldom have to replace it (How about never?! 'Cause it doesn't exist!
2) The people they spoke to in California (the designers?) didn't catch it either.
3) I got a new windshield gratis. (Terry swears there was a little ding in the old one. Probably right at her eye level. I thought it was tree sap.)

I stopped at the dealer's today on my way to the Bolt Hole and had the fella at the service desk with whom I have been dealing come out to the lot and check the gap at the top of the windshield. We then went over to a new Tundra on the lot and found it had ta-da! the exact same gap. Oh well. Live and learn.
Meanwhile, I drove east on Route 17 (the new I-86) to Binghamton, NY and then north on Route 12 to Utica and then on to the Bolt Hole from there. This is an older route that I used to take when I came up from NJ and didn't want to deal with the NY Thruway. It's actually shorter than taking either Route 14 up past Seneca Lake or Route 13 through Ithaca and is just as scenic.

Today I saw (and was stopped at the crossing) a positively huge freight train as it crossed Route 12 just south of Chenango Forks. It was easily one of the longest I've seen in the middle of the day here on the east coast. I'd estimate 100-120 cars of carious shapes and sizes. I got there just after the engines cleared (and disappeared around the bend) and sat for about 15 minutes or so.

I managed to just get through Sherburne, NY before they started their Cavalcade of Bands parade. The first Saturday of June they have lots of marching bands compete as they march along a mile or more of Route 12 that runs through town. All kinds of folks were already lining the sides of the highway and I felt like practicing my "parade wave" as I drove by. I did, however, manage to avoid the huge detour/delay that the parade would have presented.

I did see many, many cars suddenly dive for the shoulder of the road (some even made it all the way) when the driver or passenger saw something interesting at one of the many yard/garage sales along the way.

I saw a sign along the way that had me thinking. It said "Night Walkers for Sale." Now, I don't know about your area of the country but I grew up calling the worm used for fish bait a "Night Crawler" and this sign just seemed wrong. That is, unless they were selling zombies. But I didn't see any indication of that.

(I also didn't see Gov. Palin, Rev. Paul. Sorry.)
Once I refueled the truck and picked up some groceries, I was at the Bolt Hole by just after noon. Bright and sunny, with a fair breeze blowing and grass nearly up to my knees in spots. So I knew what my second task would be. (First was unloading the truck, groceries in the fridge and turning on the water.)

Oh-oh! No gas for the mower! All the cans in the garage were empty--which was a good thing.This ethanol-mix fuel doesn't do well when it sits. Even when you put Sta-Bil in it. So it was back down to the gas Stewards to get some gas. Luckily it's only a 30 mile round trip. /sarc
Back at the Bolt Hole, I fueled the mower, pushed the primer a couple of times and pulled the cord. There is no sweeter sound than the sound of a Briggs and Straton engine turning over on the first pull after the machine to which it is attached has been sitting idle in the shed since last November.

Then it was back and forth at a very slow walk to cut the thick, tall grass. I call it grass because some of it is. It's really more of a pasture mixture of plantain, wild strawberries, clover, hawkweed, daisies, mint, and--heck--even chives left over from a former attempt at gardening. Mixed in the grass were lots of pine cones that kept getting chunked out of the mower's shute and even whapped my shins from under the cowling of the mower a time or two. Twigs got chopped up as well. I avoided killing the one garter snake I saw. A woeful creature that was extremely lethargic and looked like it needed to shed its skin. I also missed the one wood frog that jumpedout of the thickest patch of true grass right in the middle of the vast expanse of the lawn.

Luckily the blackflies were kept at bay by the breeze. Not so the deer flies. All my mowing was done while squashing deer flies. I was usually too late in this action to prevent bodily harm--to me. My reaction was more a response to the stinging bite of blood lapping creatures. Every time I would even come close to a shrub or an over hanging branch, I would attract two or three of them. Working in shortsleeves, even with a liberal application of Deep Woods Off, was not a wise move. My elbows, knuckles and wrists became prime targets. By the time I was through--it took thre hours--I had probably killed a score of deer flies. I say "probably" because I've seen flies that have been pretty well smashed and flung to the ground right themselves, shake their wings and take off for another assault. My arms were dotted with little droplets of blood along with a few smears from flies that were not going to return. If I had any worries about high blood pressure, I would be safe for a couple of days--longer if I venture outside again.

And all the while my Phoebe tenants just sat off to the side and watched. They made no effort at all to come to my aid. Ingrates! Heh, they were probably sated on flies anyway.

Thank goodness that one of the allergy shots I got for four or five years, desensitized me to the bite of these pests. If I hadn't gotten those shots, my forearms would probably swollen enough to be comparable to Popeye's.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Truck has been fixed...maybe.

So I picked up the truck this afternoon and drove back to the Aerie where I noticed not much different at the top of the windshield at all. There's still a gap between the glass and the roof but now there seems to be a strip of rubber at the bottom of that gap. (I know. I know. I should have looked more carefully at the dealership when I picked it up. I was careless, okay? Besides I was happy it didn't cost me anything.)

When I drive up to the Bolt Hole tomorrow, I'll have to swing by the dealers to see if that's a feature of the Tundra or a flaw in the new glass installation. It doesn't have to be out of my way. I just need to take a different route. (I actually drove down to Wally World after dinner to see if anyone had a Tundra in the parking lot. There were two. One was an identical model to mine but perhaps a year or two older. It seemed to have a rubber strip that stood up from the joint. But on mine that ould be making contact with the windshield wipers.)

I'll want to avoid the trip up along Lake Seneca tomorrow anyway. Seems Alaska's Gov. Palin is visiting up there at Seneca Falls (the birth place of women's suffrage, home of Susan B. Anthony, etc.) and Auburn (home of Harriet Tubman and birth place of William Seward--who purchased Alaska from the Russians way back when). It's Alaska's 50th year as a state and she's dropping by to celebrate what was called Seward's Folly. Palin's retinue consists of a mere three vehicles but why take a chance of getting stuck in a motorcade as they go from Auburn to the airport.

Morning Report from the Aerie

A dreary morning here at the Aerie with a high overcast sky that threatens rain and temperatures in the upper 50s heading to low 60s...maybe.

Still, that's an improvement over what's to our southeast and east where up to 2 inches of rain are forecast for eastern PA and the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area.

About the only thing bright and cheerful today are the dozens of Goldfinches raiding the feeders. When one bird hops in on the left side of the tray feeder another has to hop out on the right. There''s just not enough room for them all at one time. And when they periodically spook or fly off to the trees to digest their food, it's a wave of yellow and black. They have certainly got the cats' attentions. Shadow and Chester are crouched at the windows making that chattering sound hunting cats (or maybe it's "frustrated cats") emit when they are focused on a target. When a bird happens to flutter a wee bit too close to the glass, Shadow will execute a most impressive standing high jump that lifts here 13+ pounds nearly three feet straight up.

Terry and I dropped the Tundra off at the dealership yesterday afternoon and they have promised to have the windshield replaced this morning by the glass subcontractor so we can pick it up this afternoon before closing time.

I think Terry will be making the sign of the cross as we pass Grace's Chinese Buffet on Rt 220 in Athens. We stopped there on the way home yesterday for dinner and all I can say is WOW! Good food that they didn't try to mask beneath too much spicy sauce at a super price. When was the last time you had dinner for two for less than $20? The soups (egg drop and hot and sour) were superb. There was plenty of variety in the salad line and close to 50(!) choices in hot entrees (and we tried way too many of them). Desserts ranged from the ubiquitous almond cookies and spice cake to fresh fruits and soft and hard ice cream. (The hard ice cream was from Hershey.) All I can say is that old saying about Chinese food is a lie. I wasn't hungry at all last night.

So, tonight we'll eat at home. Not to save money but to try and rein in our belts.

Tomorrow I'll pack up the truck and head up to the Bolt Hole to do some grounds keeping and general repair. The list of things that must be done is growing. I might even get in some lumberjack (mostly on blow downs) work in before returning to the Aerie.

A Star is Born

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

Yesterday a filming crew from Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCNTV.com) came up from Harrisburg to film a segment about Hills Creek State Park for their State Park Tour series. The Park Supervisor asked the Tiadaghton Audubon Society to participate since we run the Saturday morning bird walks in the park during April and May. As a result, Gary, who actually does most all of the leading of those walks, put out the call for club members to show up to--we thought--provide support.

Actually, it turns out that Gary is very much camera shy--you might almost say phobic. He was begging and pleading for someone else to do the talking in front of the camera with his eyes on me and another woman who is a former teacher/administrator. I kept refusing but eventually caught on that Gary was very serious about not want ing to get in front of the camera and said I would do it. I would have trimmed my peard and prepared some notes if I had an inkling of what awaited this morning.

The assistant to the cameraman attached a microphone to my shirt, positioned me in front of the lake and then it was a "Go" from the cameraman and I was off. No talking points, nothing but the sketchiest of ideas of what the Park Manager or the film crew wanted me to say, and damn little direction provided. I felt like an idiot. But, as I usually do under such situations, I managed to produce a creditable, not totally illogical spiel that lasted about 10 minutes with nary a hem, er, um, or haw to be heard. I still felt like an idiot because I really do not care to adlib like that, but everyone said I did very well. (Must have been the "training" I got from being part of the radio station back in high school. As a disc jockey spinning soft insturmentals and reading anouncements over the airwaves and then doing play-by-play for basketball games...without a spotter or color commentator and absolutely no idea who the other team's players were! AND keeping my own stats at the same time.)

One person in our group who is aware of my political leanings, joked that I sounded as good as Obama. I responded that I kept my eyes on the camera lens and didn't tilt my head and chin upward.

They'll probably edit the heck out of this little piece of fluff, dovetail in more footage of the Park Supervisor and the park facilities and programs and make it presentable. Me? I'll never know. We don't get PCNTV on our system. The NorthPen Family of Services which provides our TV, telephone and wi-fi system via our fiber optic line, uses a satellite feed not cable.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Still Cold

June 3rd and the temperature the last three days--five if we go back to last Saturday--has yet to crack the 60 degree mark. Of course, it's been a bit overcast and drizzly each of the last three days as well. The sun is supposed to come out tomorrow and we may get into the mid-60s or even up to 70 through Sunday. I'll enjoy it when/if it happens.

The flora are having mixed reactions to the chill. The beans and tomatoes are thinking of pulling up roots and picketing the house for some global warming. The strawberries are producing fruit, but I'm sure they are doing so in self defense. The zukes and cukes are probably wishing for a blanket and plotting late summer revenge by over production. Leaf lettuce and spinach are doing very well, thank you. Unfortunately the broccoli didn't germinate well at all or they too would be happy.

All the flowers and herbs are doing just fine since they are being kept moist, which is their primary concern. Sun is nice, but they need water more. They can get some sunlight through the clouds but the water around their roots...absolutely necessary. And this April-like showery weather is just up their alley.

The baby robins (turns out there were four of 'em) have left the nest and scattered. Hopefully none of the semi-feral cats that roam about the Aerie's environs had squab for breakfast yesterday.

If Goldfinches were made of gold, I'd be one very rich fella! We've had dozens and dozens of the bright little birds at the feeders since we got back for our western trip. It took them a few days to realize that food was again on the table but since then, scads of Goldies, Purple Finches, lots of Mourning Doves, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a few Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, Indigo Buntings, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Red-winged Black Birds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Eastern Towhees, Downy Woopeckers, and Hairy Woodpeckers have swarmed us. Add the Robins, House Wrens, Flickers, Crows, Ovenbirds, Barred Owls...well, you get the idea. It's been a busy--and noisy--place.

Mammals have remained small--Gray Squirrel, Chipmunk and Eastern Cottontail--which is a good thing. The raccoon hasn't been arround since last Saturday--that I know of--and the Bear and Deer haven't ventured back into the yard recently. They are probably waiting for the vegetables to ripen.

Of reptiles and amphibians there have been few. A couple of Garter Snakes, one Ringnecked Snake, a Red-Backed Salamander, and one unkown spotted by Terry. (Me: "What kind of snake was it?" Terry: "It was a snake! I didn't wait around long enough to be introduced.") I came across a couple of small toads, probably Eastern American Toads, while cutting the grass and watering the flora. As with the snakes, all of which eat insects and/or slugs, I do my best not to do harm to them. Occasionally however, they hunker down in the grass and the mower passes over them. This is NOT a sound survival strategy.

Tundra Trials and Tribulations

Soooo, I called the service manager yesterday afternoon to see if they had found the correct molding for my Tundra. His answer was of the "Yes" and "No" variety...or maybe "Good news" and "Bad news" would be more appropriate. Seems that the molding is not sold separately but as an integral part of the windshield assembly. Therefore, he had to order the entire windshield.

At least that explains why the part is not in their catalog. Although, it does smack of some PPP (piss poor planning) on the part of Toyota. Henry Ford's assembly line designers would not be pleased.

They got the windshield assembly in today and the service manager is contacting the installer (because, of course, they do not install glass on site) to make arrangements for its installation.

Good news seems to be that this may, in fact, be covered under the warranty.

Still, the Tundra ride is one of the best I've had in a full sized truck and I'll not speak ill of the folks in the service department of the dealership, either. It's not their fault this is taking so long to repair. In fact, they seem to be shaking their heads over the situation too.

UPDATE: 1:35 PM Wednesday: The service manager just called. The windshield will be replaced on Friday. Truck dropped off late Thursday and picked up late Friday.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bald Eagle Invasion!

This is unbelievable!

Cirrus, Cumulus, Asperatus?

Whether on their own or back lit by the sun or moon, clouds can be beautiful as well as informative. Looking at strato-cirrus mares' tails one can determine the likelihood of precipitation 36 hours hence. And who hasn't heard: "Red sky in morning, sailor take warning. Red sky at night, sailor's delight"?

Now a new cloud type has been proposed: Asperatus

And they are a wild and turbulent--and beautiful--bunch based upon the photos at the link.

(h/t Ann Althouse posting at Instapundit this week)

Monday, June 01, 2009


When we returned from our trip out west last week, I called the dealership to get the Tundra a servicing. It was "only" 5K miles past due. I also tried to explain about the missing molding at the top of the windshield; blown off by the Wyoming winds. The service manager wasn't sure about what part I was in need of and said they would look it over when I brought the truck in for service.

That was early last week. When they saw what was missing, they looked in their parts catalog and, lo and behold, the part was not listed. Seems it needs replacing so infrequently they don't even list the thing. Okay, I can dig that. Might even speak of the Tundra's reliability or something. So they called California and got a part ordered.

Today I was supposed to get that molding installed. I drove over to the dealers (about an hour from here) and handed over the keys. They spent 30-40 minutes cleaning off the residue from the duct tape I had been using to ensure no water got into the gaping crack and discovered that the folks in California had sent them the wrong part. Now, understand, these were the folks who designed the truck. *sigh* A wasted afternoon.

When I left, after spending a total of two hours in the waiting room, the parts manager was still on the phone trying to get the correct part ordered. IF they get one ordered, it should be here in a day or two. (FedEx overnight is wonderful!) Then it will be one more trip over to get the molding installed.

It's about a 45 mile trip...one way. At least they didn't charge me for today's visit, but I wish they would pay me for my gas. I figure I'm burning up around 5-6 gallons each time and current prices are $2.60 per for regular. Then there's the greenhouse gases...actually, forget about that part of the equation. With the weather we've been having we could use a little warming.

Not so cool.

While waiting for the frost warnings issued yesterday to come to fruition, I donned a jacket and went out to cut the grass here at the Aerie. Even working during the "heat" of the day (1 PM to 2 PM) I couldn't break a sweat pushing the mower around. Between the strong wind that was blowing and the cool temperatures (the high for the day was just 61 degrees), sweating was not going to be a problem.

Mom and Pop Robin on the other hand.... They were not happy at all when I brought that noisy, gas powered mower anywhere near their nest that held their precious babies. Although they held back and did nothing but squawk at me from the trees. Must be liberals. Of course, they failed to comprehend that shorter grass means they can hunt worms and crickets more efficiently.

Freeze? Frost? Nah, not even close. The low at the Aerie was only 39 degrees early this AM. (We covered the 'maters anyway...just in case. The wind was really blowing all day yesterday and that made me think it was less likely that we would have a real frost as stirred up air seldom does produce frost...or dew. It was a mere 50 degrees when we pulled the bird feeders in at 8 PM however and that did not bode well. Especially when the wind died a short time later like some one cut the switch on the fan. The sky was crystal clear with stars and a first quarter moon shining brightly.

No frost but great sleeping weather.

Up at the Bolt Hole it might have been a different story. A weather underground station about five or six miles away as the crow flies (and about 400 feet lower in elevation) reported 31 degrees at 5 AM this morning. The Bolt Hole is usually a few degrees colder.

So I'll give the weather.com folks and those from the national weather service that issued freeze and then frost warnings a 50% on this one. (Means you could have just flipped a coin to get the same results.)