On Wednesday morning I went down and got my fishing license for the year. It's still catch and release season, but that's because the bass are all on their spawning beds in the shallows and they are, shall we say, easy pickins. I have spent maybe a total of 90 minutes on the water in the past two days, with results like this: (Pix behind cut)
Here we are, about two weeks into the latest spasm of house remodeling, the final push to turn the shack on the lake into the perfect house on the lake.
Ok, not really. We had to exclude some desired changes to the 2nd floor for cost reasons, and we won't be doing any of the landscaping or back deck/grill work this round. But pretty much every major exterior and 1st floor thing is getting done!
Last week, we dispersed to the four winds to let the team come in and dismantle the first floor. Calvin, Rose, and I went down to my folks' place in VA, Nina spent some time with James, Anne visited her mom. More on that later. Here's a little flavor of what went down while we were away. (Cut for big pix) Continue reading
Just capturing a delightful weekend before we start up another one…
This great blue heron– or multiple herons of nearly equal size– took up residence in the trees overhanging the creek for several weeks here in the early fall. Anne got some good shots of it too, looking upstream from the bridge; this is in the back corner of the yard, behind the well cap. Ms./Mr. heron presumably hung around to feast on the abundant frog population this year, but with the onset of the rains it seems to have moved on.
…has been very busy.
For reference, that limb he is working on is as big around as my chest. Mr. Woodpecker is BIG. He has been working that tree since before we got here, and we've seen him down by the creek dismantling a couple other trees. The woodpeckers in CA, when I heard them, went pocka-pocka-pocka, fast and light. This fellow goes THUNK. THUNK. THUNK. He is impressive in every way.
In my dream, tiny little Holmes Creek that runs around our property and under the covered bridge has been infiltrated by a Russian nuclear submarine. The real life creek is so low it is almost cut off from the lake; the dream creek is substantially larger and deeper.
There is a smaller US sub that has just moved into position downstream. In the yard and on the embankment, Army brass– not sure why not Navy but the green uniforms tell the tale– are sitting in large claw-footed bathtubs, stage-whispering strategy back and forth. Because obviously, if the Russkies can get a sub into Holmes creek, they must have bugged the trees. Right? Right.
Pro tip: you can dramatically improve the yardwork participation rate among 8y.o. males if you creatively reframe the exercise as a gamified combat simulation.
"Sir! Our robot laser rakes have completely wiped out all nano-Migs in this sector!"
"Carry on, Soldier."
…and so that mountain of leaves that was keeping the new grass from sprouting in the backyard– where everything got dug up to put in the well and ground lines for the geothermal system– has been forcibly relocated to another quadrant.
It was 75 degrees yesterday. What. The. Hell. This time last year the snowdrifts were taller than I am.
A light dusting of snow last night led to spending the morning out doors with Calvin. After failing to make a snowman– not near enough snow and way too much mud, it was more of a mudman or a golem– and a sloshy snowball fight, I had to dissuade him from trying to build a treehouse from scrap iron and wood he found in the meadow. Industrious, this one. We will have a treehouse at some point, it's inevitable, but I would prefer not to try to drive nails into frozen Maple, kthxbuddy? He agreed!
Next we headed down to the beach. Picked up a bunch of glass, cans, and other tidal detritus, then hopped to the other side of the bridge for some winter bouldering. This is the route Calvin walks on the way home from the bus every day and he absolutely schooled me in a game of "don't touch the ground, only the rocks." Along the way he was pointing out rock stack sculptures that survived the whole winter, various ice-formations that looked like rockets or dragons, the sticks in the water that he is finally convinced are NOT Champ…it was awesome. "On the other side of those stairs is level THREE! The rocks are taller and pointier and slipperier."
Ever since he was born, this has been the greatest gift of all: seeing the world through his eyes. There is indeed treasure everywhere.
Home now for lunch, more tabla practice, and some science experiments.
6 inches overnight and coming down in big wet flakes still. Calvin and Rose were out making muddy snowmen and partial igloos all morning but have retreated for the comforts of the couch. This afternoon: the Muppet Movie. Hell yes.
Tonight was not promising early on, as light low clouds obscured everything. But a steady wind was blowing, so Calvin and I decided to wait it out. Rose stayed inside with mama playing Chutes and Ladders, her choice. While we were waiting Leroy Bear came bounding out from the trees and we let him inside; a good thing too, as we heard coyotes howling not long after and I do worry sometimes about leaving him outside too late.
Eventually the clouds blew past, or most of them at least, and we were able to take a gander. We switched from the 15mm to 12mm Plossel eyepiece tonight and even with some lingering high faint clouds the results were spectacular. We stared at the moon for a while again, then turned to Jupiter and this time, after quite a lot of fiddling with the focus, we were able to see the horizontal bands of the great cloud storms. Still no red spot; it didn't transit until 10pm or so this evening. Here's Calvin taking it in (click twice to embiggenate), during which, we had this conversation: "Calvin, can you see the bands?" "Ohhhhh yeah…yep…yep, I sure can." After five or six more turns, he was slightly less amazed…but only slightly!
Today after far too much delay we had a fella come by with his tractor and brush hog the meadow. We meant to get to it in the Spring, then over the Summer, but one thing led to another and it never seemed like a good time. Then, as you may have heard, it got crazy wet around here for a few weeks and there was no point. But it's been dry long enough we figured we'd better get to it or the job would be much worse.
…if you are young.
Over dinner last night we got to talking about Sunspots, the solar cycle, aurorae, and the like. Calvin and Rose asked to go outside and look for some, even though I was pretty sure– you *were* aware of spaceweather.com, right?– that there were no recent flares headed our way. But in between dinner and bedtime, amidst much scrambling and bundling in gloves and hats and coats, we went out. Because I am so SMRT, I put the AstroScan out about 20 minutes ahead of time so it would be temperature adjusted. Continue reading
At some point here I will post a gallery of pix of the garage destruction/remodel. For the purpose of this post, all you need to know is that 1) for many weeks now there have been anywhere from 2-15 unprotected open pathways between the great outdoors and the comfy indoors, and 2) one of the less-reported but painfully obvious after-effects of Tropical Storm Irene in VT was a late hatch of a particularly active, large, hardy bunch of mosquitos.
So in brief, we've been fighting off the bloodsucking fiends for what seems like ages now. But thanks to our geothermal contractor, I now have a remedy that can be weilded from the comfort of my desk, which happens to be nearest to the source of most of the infiltrations. Continue reading
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Tagged toys, vermont
The downstairs bathroom, the one that is due to be ripped out and replaced by the new one in the mudroom sometime in the next 3 weeks, sprung a leak this morning. Luckily the water dripped straight down the joists to the basement right into the sump well. Unluckily there was some slop to the dripline and one of our small, lovely persian rugs got wet. I shop-vac'd the hell out of it, hung it to dry, started a fire upstairs and turned on the goethermal system even though the house is warm. Well-circulated super-dry stove air ought to save the rug.
Posted in vermont
Tagged house, vermont
[The Scene:] Yesterday, Calvin had a play date that kept him out until almost 5:30, which around here is actually nighttime this time of the year. As he was coming home we were in the middle of the third snow flurry of the year.
He comes in the door yelling, "Papa, come outside with me and see! It's SO BEAUTIFUL!"
So how do you resist that? I throw on a coat, hat, gloves, and walk out the back porch door. I don't see him at first, then from my right he says "Come stand right here, this is the good spot."
He's backed up to the garage doors, looking up at an angle. The moon is about 80% full and is only slightly occluded behind thin clouds. With the lake so close we get a steady but unpredictable wind that flows (sometimes, it howls) around the house and creates all manner of swirling eddies. Tonight it is spilling around both sides of the garage and as the snow falls through the pale moonlight, it spirals to earth in tight rings, the ones to our left turning one way, to our right turning the other. Tiny snowflakes fall straight down but the bigger ones are all spinning around and colliding. Calvin is almost reverent. "See? It's beautiful."
I stick my tongue out. Calvin mimics me and starts laughing, running around chasing the bigger snowflakes and cracking himself up. I hear a small whine and look down, and Ellie is wagging furiously with her ears pulled back in that "OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE" way. It occurs to me that we haven't really been outside with her in a few days and she must have a severe case of doggie cabin fever. So I reach into the porch and grab her frisbee. As soon as she sees me holding it, she turns into crazy dog, running madly in circles, digging her nose into the snow to throw it into the air. She comes back and sits without my asking, a huge grin on her face. We don't play fetch. We play, Throw->Chase the dog->clever subterfuge to make her drop the preferred toy and chase a stick or something->repeat. This is slightly more exciting than usual in the icy dark but somehow we all keep our feet and run madly about for 15 minutes or so. Right about the time I am getting winded, the snow pauses for a second and A. calls for dinner. Just so.