9 December 2023

Snow days

Snow days don’t really matter much unless the storm takes out the power and the internet, these days. What snow days do is make everything prettier … and slightly more difficult. Everything is an exercise in dressing appropriately for the task and the wind and the temperature.

Last Sunday night, it started snowing right around sundown. We were due for 4.5 inches or so ending mid-Monday morning. Instead we finished up with around 6 inches early in the afternoon, then another inch or so that night. Here’s my Monday morning (12/4/2023) view from my office window:

Snowy view east from our house, fields and brush all coated.
Snowy view east from our house

The snow was heavy enough that I used the machine instead of shoveling, late morning on Monday. I did, however, shovel out some walking and bio-break spots for the dog on the front yard. Through the week, Georgia and I did make it out each day on abbreviated walks, only a mile and a half or so, I had to break out my snow and ice cleats, it gets treacherous pretty quickly:

Georgia the rescue american bully mix dog, in her safety orange vest, on a tree-lined trail, everything covered in snow.
Georgia scouting ahead.
Georgia the rescue american bully mix dog, in her safety orange vest, on our way though one of the quarry areas, snow-covered granite blocks in the middle distance.
Georgia trying to figure out the ATV tracks

The other treacherous bit was the bitingly low temps for this early in the season. Overnights dropped hard into the single digits: 9°, 8°, 5°, 4° – that was Monday through Thursday night lows. Since then it’s warmed a little bit, but not much – we got all the way up to freezing yesterday. Today we got up to the mid-30’s, and Georgia went walking out on one of the smaller, shallower frozen ponds on our walk today.

Be well.

23 November 2023

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s t-shirt weather outside, midday today. We hope you have a lovely holiday. But here’s what it looked like yesterday morning…

Snow, 1" or less, on front walk and yard, first of the season.
First real snow of 2023

Might as well get used to posting black & white pictures for the next few months…

10 October 2023

Busy Times

We’ve had family visiting in the past few weeks. First Marcia’s brother and his wife, then Marcia’s niece and her family (hubby and three kids). It was hectic, and fun. We went to the local Common Ground Fair (pricy, crowded … meh). We went for lobster on the coast (or, in my case, bacon-wrapped scallops), and we did some fishing. Then with the second group: cook outs, a family party, and fishing. A reasonably good time was apparently had by all, including us. Georgia, the rescue mutt, did pretty well with all the hustle and bustle, too.

Fishing

The fishing this year was good. Not great, but we’re getting better at it with practice as one might expect. We’re better at finding the fish, and tricking them into biting. Now if only we had time for more time on the water.

This last weekend was the last fishing weekend of our year. Saturday was a rain-out, in every sense of the term. My back porch rain gauge measured 3.5″ over about 16 hours. Yeah. So Sunday early I headed over to the lake to empty the bilge on our yacht. Oddly, 3.5″ of standing water in the bottom of the boad. So after emptying the bilge, as I was already there, I got out on the water and spent a few hours fishing. Caught a couple of fish just like bass, only smaller (less than 1#), had a good one on the line but it jumped and thrashed and threw the bait/hook off. Sigh. The fishing is done.

On Monday (Indigenous Peoples / Columbus Day = a Federal holiday that my work observes), after coffee and dog walks, Marcia and I wrangled the boat up to the Monmouth public ramp, loaded it onto the trailer, and drove to the house. There I did some maintenance, including replacing the windscreen that got shattered by a drop shot weight earlier in the year. (Yes, by me!)

Our fishing boat in the driveway, after I replaced the starboard windscreen.
Our fishing boat in the driveway, after I replaced the starboard windscreen.

Then I drove the boat up to Waterville, where it’ll get serviced, have a couple of glitches fixed, and they’ll store it indoors for us for the winter.

Speaking of Winter

Yeah, winter is coming. I expect our first evening in the 30’s (F) one night this week. The pellet stove is coming on for a few hours over night now. And the leaves are robustly expressing their opinion of the situation:

Leaves on a couple of trees turning red, reflected in a small pond between the camera and the trees.
Color season in the Northeast…

Meantime, it’s also the time of year when I regularly get lovely sunrises at a time when I’m awake and can appreciate them. Through most of the summer, sunrise is just too early. But now it’s just at the start of my day.

Red clouds in the sky, just before sunrise.
Red sky in the morning…

Lovely, innit? Yep, just a reminder that’s the view out of my home office window (aka the foyer of our home).

See y’all again soon…

11 June 2023

Moist Spring

It’s been gray and raining far more often than not these last few weeks. Nothing ever really dries out. Not me, not the dog. We got the boat out of storage on a Saturday in early May … immediately followed by 3.6 inches of rain in a 24 hour period. Everything flooded. Bits of docks were floating away. It was two or three weeks before things stabilized and we could put our boat in the water. We’ve been out a few times, caught a few small bass and a monster of a great northern pike that I got to the boat, but it came off the lure before I could land it.

Last week I finally got about 36 hours without much rain, and re-mowed the front yard – the property was looking abandoned, which isn’t a good look. Now the lawn is flat, the tulips and daffodils have come and gone, but the rhododendrons are stunning this year.

Front yard pink rhododendrons in full bloom
Front yard rhododendrons in full bloom

Now if only it would warm up and dry up. So of course the forecast for Tuesday through Friday is rain. And other than a couple of warm days, we’ve left the pellet stove plugged in and it’s been running itself from middle of the night to mid-morning nearly every day (about a bag of pellets every 3-4 days) – not a warm start to the late-spring / early-summer season, either.

Still, the rains have keep the smoke and particulates that afflicted much of New England (and other aread) from affecting us at all. So, upside, there.

Have a good Summer. I’ll try to get better about posting from time to time.

19 April 2023

Weather or Not…

Nearly three weeks ago, the (perhaps) last snow of the season came and went. (I’ve doomed us, now.) Friday last, it was in the high 70’s (F) hereabouts, shorts and tshirt while walking the dog. This week, we’ve been back down in the mid-thirties overnight most night, and might approach freezing again a few times.

That said, I’ve arrange for us to pick up the boat from winter storage at the end of the month (I’ve doomed us, again). The weather doesn’t look auspicious for early May fishing yet, but if the boat isn’t out, there’s no hope at all.

Weird Dog

I’ve said it before, but Georgia is weird. She certainly watches television, which none of our other dogs have. While she often does respond actively to pets and wildlife onscreen, she’s also often content to just watch whatever’s on. In this case, the Great British Bake Off (err, “Baking Show”, sorry Pillsbury)…

Rescue dog watching television, resting her head on the arm of the futon.
Georgia watching Paul Hollywood on #GBBO
Georgia reclining on the futon sofa, watching Great British Bake Off
Georgia watching Suri make marzipan on #GBBO

So much weird.

19 March 2023

Our Weird Dog

Hunting season is long past, but Georgia Aileen and I stay in orange, me to make us easier for drivers to spot and avoid when we’re walking along the road to our trails, and Georgia so that I can find her when she’s more than twenty feet away in the snow and shadows…

Black on white rescue dog in an orange vest on a snowy tree-laden trail.
Without her orange vest, Georgia is a fully camo winter dog.

When it’s TV time in the late afternoon and early evenings, Georgia continues to watch TV with us. So much more than any other dog we’ve had.

Black on white rescue dog sitting on futon sofa watching television.
Georgia watching television.

A normal weekend day

Well, normal-ish – it’s also production patch Sunday. So I was up with Georgia at 0630. Got the coffee started, then took the dog outside for her morning ablutions, then she got a treat. By quarter to seven, I was at my desk, signed in and doing prep for production Linux patching (remote). All that, and documenting the first phase of the work was about an hour.

Then Georgia and I went in to wake Marcia. Everyone had breakfast. Then I started in on the next round of patching activities. That took about another hour. Thereafter, Georgia and I went on our usual morning walk: about two miles up to the brush piles, around the trail and up to the local reservoir, then back home – about 45 minutes.

I sat and did the email and news online routine for a short while, then on to house chores. I turned off the pellet stove, so it could cool. In the basement, I did the periodic (every 5-6 weeks) coffee roaster cleaning, and ran water in the fixtures that don’t see much use (keeps the traps full of water and the sewer/septic gas out of the house).

Next chore, split and stack another couple of weeks of firewood for the downstairs wood stove. That was about an hour and a half. Final big chore of the weekend was cleaning/vacuuming the main floor pellet stove. We have a dedicated vacuum for that (steel canister, steel hose, etc, in case of live embers). 45 minutes put paid to that task. At which point my energy was … drained.

That’s not an unusual list – sometimes it’s cleaning, sometimes (in warmer months) it’s mowing, etc. But I’m glad to be able to be here and doing the things to maintain our home and our comfort.

Be well.

21 February 2023

Joys of a Slower Lifestyle

On the upside, no commute at all: dog out, brew coffee, sit, work. And when we do get out, there’s not much in the way of traffic this time of year. Summer is the time for tourists and road work, so very quiet just now. And cold. A few weeks back it was -21°out. This upcoming Saturday, it’ll be minus something again, we’re assured. But we’re keeping up the heating routine.

For President’s Day weekend, I split and stacked firewood, did some off hours work, got the weekly shopping in, did some off hours work, cleaned house, did some off-hours work, and stripped, then relined all of our fishing rods in preparation for the coming season. But it’s not all fun and games…

I do get the dog out for a mile or two (usually two) every day, and we end up going up to our local reservoir. In the non-frozen months, it’s Georgia’s mid-trip water bowl. But this time of year, she wanders about on it…

Geogria Aileen, the rescue american bully mix dog, walking on a frozen pond, evergreens in the background.
Georgia wandering about on the pond

Not much else to report. Work, chores, staying warm, board games. WInter in Maine.

28 January 2023

Mornings

We’re in the midst of the season where mornings aren’t very … welcoming. Some days, I’d rather just stay in bed until Spring. For example, in the days to come, we’re due for highs in the low single digits (F), and lows in the negative teens. That’s proper cold. When it does warm just a bit, it actually just screws things up further – the other day, two days after 15″ of snow…

Snow thrower, still more work to do clearing snow from the driveway.
Clearing snow from the driveway

… We had a further 3″ of snow over night … but then it warmed up enough to deliver a bit of rain, then a bit of ice, then a bit of rain, then back down to snow. That left me with a driveway covered with 3″ of something the consistency of a slushie. The snow thrower (and we have a pretty good one) wasn’t very happy – I had to stop and clear the throat and impellers a couple of times.

The payoff is that, often as not, I’m greeted with a spectacular sunrise out my home office window, just about the time I’m starting work each weekday. Like last Tuesday morning, with the sunrise colors echoed in the snow fields…

Sunrise in Maine, reds and oranges of the clouds reflecting in the snow on the fields to the east of the house.
Sunrise in Maine

Some things just don’t suck.

Keeping Warm

The other thing to do in the winter is to keep warm. Every three or four weeks, I head down to the lower garage, crank up some tunes, and start turning the firewood we bought into sizes manageable for Marcia and the Jøtul stove she uses to keep her sewing area in the basement warm.

This time of year, it’s about 35°F in the lower garage. I fire up the little propane heater I have, point the fan at me, and start splitting wood. Doesn’t take long before I’m down to a t-shirt, and the space is up to, oooh… 38°F or so.

Splitting wood with a wedge and a five pound sledge.
Splitting firewood

It takes about an hour and a half to split enough wood for the rack I built her, and stock it in.

Racked firewood in the basement
Racked firewood for the Jøtul stove (partially in view at lower left)

Depending on how many days she’s downstairs… well, it lasts as long as it lasts. To be fair, I have about a six week supply also already split and stacked under the basement stairs (out of view to the right of the rack pictured above), so that if needed, there’s wood available should I be busy or ill or whatever… but my preference is to stay ahead of the game.

Be well, care for each other, and stay warm!

19 January 2023

Disappointment

On Monday, this was supposed to be ~12″ of snow:

path through ice on the driveway
Disappointing precipitation

But instead we got a bit over an inch of mixed sleet and ice. Tuesday is trash/recycle day, so I chopped a path to the street (and cleared the boardwalk to the front door), and got the important bits out by the road. Later in the day, after Mr. Feeble Sun got a chance to lukewarm the surface, I cleared the rest of the driveway, making it safe for anyone visiting (and safe for our garage doors should someone have been unable to stop their vehicle on an icy driveway).

Tomorrow (Friday), we’re suppose to get ~7″ of snow? Any bets?

17 December 2022

Winter Days

Winter days are … often busier than summer days around here. But before we get to that level of fun, Marcia wanted our rescue dog Georgia in her winter coat, as most days around here struggle to get up to 0°centigrade. Georgia did fine in the coat, and then went to find Wolverine to put paid to the winter coat:

Georgia wearing a winter coat with the back fabric shredded and the filling leaking all over the place.

As I noted above, winter days are busy. Yesterday, I took off “work” early… so I could spend some quality afternoon time turning big pieces of fire wood into smaller pieces of firewood. The basement wood stove is a Jøtul 118, which is deep, with a small front firebox door. Therefore, larger cross section pieces of wood are hard to deal with. Sadly, than means that about 70% of the 2 cords we had delivered last year need further splitting. It takes me about an hour and a half to split and stack enough wood for Marcia to use for 3-4 weeks in that stove:

Splitting firewood into smaller cross sections with wedge and small sledge

Today, to ensure that I kept up the manual labor, we had the first serious snow of the season. The weather app says that we had 13+ inches between yesterday and today. Much of the early snow was wet and heavy:

First snow of the season, view out the front walk.

I cleared the first round with the snow thrower, then did two more passes during the day with a shovel, clearing 2-3 inches per pass:

Shoveling snow from the driveway, partially done.

Plus, I use the snow thrower to clear some dog outing tracks in the front yard, just to give her a place for me to bring her out on leash to do her business:

Cleared paths of snow for Georgia to use the front yard with more ease and interest.

That’s about all there is. Up early tomorrow for patching Linux boxen at work, then the big chore for tomorrow: cleaning the upstairs Harman pellet stove. Ciao!