Sunday, November 30, 2008

Season's First Snow

Did those bluebirds know something? That it would snow overnight? About an inch of it. Was just out takin' 110 pictures. This, my favorite, #100, is not photoshopped -- that's the way the branches with the snow on them really look.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Look Who's Here to Cheer

In these dreary days counting down to the Solstice (not so far away) some vivid color is thrilling. Today I saw -- the bluebird pair! They often winter here, but not in the box. Maybe this year?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Deer Season

The grimmest story ever told on this 100 acres:

One Christmas Day I decided to walk in the snowy oak-and-hickory woods for an hour and think good things. The silence was the big winter kind that felt like deafness. Animal tracks led me along a known game trail. Barely out of sight of the road, a dead deer lay split open, red exploded all over the white snow. Without looking too closely, I saw it was the young buck from the family I'd watched strolling down the road every dusk for more than a year.

Clearly the coyotes had got it. I was rattled enough that I didn't go walking anymore that day.

Next day the landlord's handyman, who was new then, came by to work on Shelley's house. Then he knocked on my door and said, "Need anything?" - which he never did unless I called him. He's a busy man.

I told him about the dead deer in the woods. He said he'd taken a walk, seen it, and got a good look, and its antlers had been roped to a tree. He figured a trespasser wounded and left it, maybe thinking to return and finish it off. But the hunter never came back and the coyotes got the deer. Alive.

"Oh, how horrible!" I said.

Deer firearms season had been closed for a month. He said, "That was poaching. Why didn't you report it?"

It came out that, for God's sake -- he suspected that maybe I'd done it!

No hunting is ever allowed on this acreage. Just to make sure everybody knows, a month before this deer firearms season opened (Nov. 15-25), I sprayed purple paint -- signifying "no hunting" -- on tree trunks all around the property's edge. When I see a deer I deliberately shoo it toward the center of the woods, where supposedly nobody can hunt. And if they do they'd better be humane enough to kill.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Vitamin C and Propane

Eager to fill the Divine propane tank now that gasoline is so low -- $1.79/gallon in Eureka, and propane prices tend to parallel gas prices -- I phoned the propane company. And the driver came today. I hopped over and said hello, and "What's the price of propane today?" He said, "$2.83." I said "That's high." "But it don't look like your place uses a lot," he replied, nodding toward the Divine cabin.

So that was his comforting take on how my hard-scrabbled $400 got me 135 gallons and a tank up from 30 percent to 50 percent full. On the open market, propane trades at about $2.18. The delivery company tacks on 65 cents per gallon for the truck, its driver, office and whatall. Beats the cold, though, and beats getting bloated bills from the natural gas company, which city folk tell me is really puttin' the thumbscrews on its customers this year.

Oh, the Vitamin C? When the year's deteriorating like it is, and fuel bills depress you, take extra C!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Lesson in Warmth

The Divine cabin is well-built; it’s just that it’s 70 years old, with two tacked-on rooms built in 1969 and 1991 – and the doors are a bit warped, and the windows old, loose or off, or single-pane (no storm window). Spring, summer, and fall here are glorious, but I’ve always dreaded winter.

Until David came last week to winterize the place. Oh, I’d always done the plastic-over-windows stuff, but I still spent last winter straddling the electric heater just to keep warm – wearing hat, legwarmers and fingerless gloves. I’d stand there like that to do my reading, telling myself, You wanna live out here – you have to be tough.

Well, this prince among men caulked up the window frame that let winter winds whistle over my bed. And he did bunch of other stuff, like help me plastic the windows, and fixed my old furnace’s thermostat. There's a level inside filled with mercury called the heat anticipator. The level wasn’t level. Just a tap fixed it and corrected the whole system. Won’t be using so much propane.

I’d been shutting off rooms to keep warmth in some and cold in others, and David pointed out that because there’s only one air-return – located in the living room –I should open the interior doors to keep warmth circulating.

Then he weatherstripped the doors, some warped to the tune of half-inches and inches – “hellacious,” in David’s assessment. I could feel the difference right away.

He had to go shopping with his sister, so he left me the caulking gun to do some other, smaller jobs. Thank you, David, for your knowledge, advice, common sense, and skill – you should see how flawlessly he caulked! Thank you for the warm house!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spider Invasion

Nothing like weekend guests to bring in all the 2-inch wolf spiders seeking shelter for the winter. Saturday night three or four wolf spiders ran around the kitchen and dining room all at once, eliciting concern (black widow? brown recluse?) and tales of spider bites, tarantulas and scorpions. The spiders were stomped by the tough-talking "kill 'em and grill 'em" brother-in-law and defended by my squealing school-aged niece who thinks they're part of the environment. I was only dismayed that these spiders all showed up at once at dinnertime. It was like I rang for them or somethin.

By the end of winter, behind the shelves or baseboards or in the closet, they will grow to about 4 inches long, and leave huge webs that droop like hammocks. Wolf spiders are harmless.