Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Taking Advantage of the Weather

Okay, so I tend to whine about the warm weather (to say the least), but despite my dislike for warm humid temps, the fair conditions have definitely been a bonus for me in terms of getting ready for winter. In years past I've left things out too long and then the snow comes. By that point, it's too late and they end up outside all winter. While this seems like the easy way out, it tends to come back to haunt you, especially when it comes to power tools.

With this in mind, with the recent warm up, which for the record is highly unusual (50 degrees near Thanksgiving? Gimme a break), I was able to run the chainsaw and lawnmower dry, and get the hoses drained and stored. I left the hoses out and once the freezing temps hit, the water inside them froze. I figured it was all over at that point, but with warmer temps forecast, I laid them out, let them drain, and then wound them up for storage. I also moved all the kindling blocks and fat logs into the basement, and got year two of the woodpile stacked and covered. Rock and roll!

I failed to do any raking this year, or for that matter last minute mowing, but I can definitely do that in the spring, when cabin fever makes doing crappy outdoor chores a joy (sort of), or at the very least, less miserable. Then again, I always seem to find a way to complain about something... just ask my family.

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Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Blaine French for the pic.

Learning Lit

We need to do more literature work for A, and I've been furiously searching for some venue in this regard. Almost every other subject seems to have a great deal of resources online, but literature is a bit more complicated, mainly because it usually involves writing essays and getting critical feedback. This isn't so easy to do on a website, and often involves some human interaction. Good luck with that online. There are online classes that include teacher oversight, but more often than not, they are a little pricey, and as anyone who knows me knows, this is a big turn-off.

Thus the search begins for a lit resources online. My feeling is that it's really about choosing some classic and seminal books to read, hitting on a theme to write about, and then having either mom or me read and review it. Then hand it back to A for proper revisions. Truth be told, A already took the SAT Literature subject test and did very well. She's a good writer, but we need to have some organized and structured learning to gain some credibility. Unfortunately, my word just isn't enough to appease the powers that be.

We'll see where this one goes. Why does life always seem like such an adventure? Probably because I can never do anything the easy way, like sending your kids to school.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to eltpics for the pic.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Silver Lining of Nature's Wrath

The weather has been more than a little crazy, with cool summers, warm autumns, and the occasional storm that seems to come out of nowhere. We got slammed with just such a storm a week or two back, and it was a little precarious, to say the least. We got some rain but the big deal was the wind, which knocked out power to much of the area. We lost it for about 3-4 hours, but some people were without electricity for as long as a week. Boy what a drag.

While we're never fans of big windy storms like that, if there was ever a silver lining to them, this might be it. We had an old hemlock that had died a few years ago but was still standing, so it needed to be dealt with. The big concern was that it would fall somewhere we didn't want it to, though it was too far from the house. My Mentor had a look at it and wanted to cut it down ourselves, which would have entailed tying it to his truck and gradually cutting the thing down. I think we could have done it, but he was insisting that we drop it onto the grass where we hang out laundry, thus necessitating the removal of our laundry line. Not a big deal, but would require putting it back up, and it wasn't that easy because it's long. I thought it would have been easier to drop it in another direction, but he was having none of it.

As with many things in my life, I sat on it and eventually my Mentor went back up to his winter home in Maine, so the tree was still standing, allowing me to put it off for yet another year. Yay... or not. Then this storm hit, and mom had mentioned that she thought she could hear trees falling in the woods. As luck would have it, one of those trees was the dead hemlock, and it fell back safely into the woods. Boy, talk about getting lucky, not only did it do no harm, but it's tucked away in the trees, out of sight and out of mind, sort of. You can see it, but I could probably leave it as it is and nobody would care, or for that matter, even notice. I will probably at some point cut it into blocks to facilitate the decaying process, but for now, we're in good shape. Besides, I've already put my chainsaw in storage, so I have an excuse.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Hoads Wood Cottage for the pic.

Mold City

Now that the weather is cooler, the moist and humid conditions have passed. However, while it was warm, in combination with all the rain we seemed to have gotten, things got rather moldy. It wasn't as bad as what we used to get during the scorching hot and humid summers, where dampness affected just about everything. With this, it mainly affected stuff outside, especially our firewood, which seemed to be procure this nasty black and slimy mold. Not a huge deal, but a big unsightly, to say the least. Plus, it made splitting a bit of a challenge because the wood was so slippery.

Now it's cooler and dry, but from what I can gather, it's supposed to warm up a bit this week. Sometimes you just can't win.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to nevikk for the pic.

Making the Switch

In the words of Oscar Wilde, the best way to deal with temptation is to succumb to it. With this in mind, I took the leap and upgraded my smartphone, though upgrade should be taken with a grain of salt. I really liked my first phone, a Motorola, though it suffered (or rather, I suffered) from having too little storage. As a result, it couldn't hold too many apps and seemed to always be at capacity. This, despite the fact that I rarely downloaded apps and didn't take too many pictures. Otherwise, l liked the phone and its graphic interphase, and it was solid and looked good, but it only had (you're going to laugh) 3GB of storage. I guess you can't be too picky for a $39 phone.

In the quest for more storage, and thus more apps, I got an LG smartphone, which has a whopping 8GB of storage. This is paltry compared to modern smartphones like my daughters, but for me it is plenty. And, unlike my older Motorola, my LG has a selfie camera because I'm a selfie maniac, and it has a flashlight, which the Motorola did not have. Either way, it's a more up-to-date phone, but interestingly enough, it was actually cheaper than the Motorola. I don't get how all the pricing works, but the cost of smartphones, if you don't want the top of the line, can be very affordable.

So now I have a phone that has a light, can take selfies, and has enough storage so that I can download apps to my hearts content. What more could I ask for, other than maybe a smartphone that costs $50?

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Karlis Dambrans for the pic.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mucho Splitting

With the winter weather right on the horizon, both literally and figuratively, I wanted to get as much splitting done with the splitter before the snow hit the ground. AM is very cool about not only letting me borrow her splitter, but not putting any time pressure on when to get it back. She said she'd done with all her wood for the year, so I could take my time. I did, however, want to get it back to her before it snowed, though I'm not sure why.

So with that in mind, I decided to get as much splitting done before the snow came, which was this week. For the record, it was only a dusting and as always I overreacted, but what else is new? Either way, I have a pretty major pile of logs that needs to be done, including a pretty significant pile that I'd determined were too difficult to split by hand. Or should I say would require too much time and effort. I sort of believe that given unlimited time, eventually I could split most pieces, but who's got the time and energy for that?

I also have a massive pile of logs that I haven't sorted through, so it includes splittable and non-splittable pieces. With time an issue, I decided I didn't have time to be picky. The plan was to split the un-splittable pile, then just start splitting everything in sight. It actually worked out pretty well. I managed to get the first pile done, and then I got started on the second massive pile. During the latter process I was able to separate out pieces that were clearly splittable, and just focused on big knotty pieces. By the end of last week I had a massive pile of split wood. Best of all, I was able to conveniently arrange transport of the splitter with none other than the other owner of the splitter. It's complicated and I won't bore you with the details.

All in all, a pretty smooth process because I split a ton of wood and borrowed and returned the splitter with minimal complications. Don't you just love when that happens?

I will say this - I think a splitter is in our future, maybe like the one in this pic... yeah, right. As much as I love to swing that maul, I'm getting old and my body can't always handle it. Total bummer, but such is life.

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave Dugdale for the pic.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Oh Deer!

I don't know if this is a rite of passage when you live in rural New England, but I recently hit a deer while driving. From what I can gather, this is a pretty common experience, except that most of my friends were driving big manly trucks and I was in our little tiny Honda Fit. For all it's worth, despite the fact that the deer was pretty big, our tiny fit sent it flying. We had body damage to the car, but the frame and lights are fine, and the impact didn't seem to have much of an effect on the forward momentum of the car.

It was a crazy weekend, to boot. N had a game down in Concord and was visiting with friends down there, so we went down early. We met up at the arena and his friend stayed to watch him play, which I thought was cool. We grabbed a bite to eat then headed home. The drive is actually not as painful as I thought it would be, and if anything, is a shorter trek than games up in Burlington or St. Albans. Plus, I wasn't as exhausted (thankfully) as I thought I'd be. Either way, we got home around 5:00PM (after being out since 9:00AM) and N immediately informed me that his buddy SMA wanted him to sleep over. A was heading over to her pals house for her own sleepover, so I dragged my sorry and tired butt off the couch and drove N over to his friend's house, which is sort of in the middle of nowhere and a fair distance away. I took the highway over there but chose the roads on the way back, and that was a mistake.

While heading home, I was doing about 45 mph when a deer ran across about 1/4 mile ahead. I turned on my brights and eased off the accelerator when another deer darted out right in front of me. I had no time to react, and I slammed into it, sending it flying. There was literally nothing I could do. I pulled over to see how bad things were - the deer was clearly gone, and the front of the Fit was a bit dented. Total bummer all around, though on a bright note, the car drives fine, and everything else is working, including the lights. Nothing is leaking, and no mysterious smells, liquids, or gasses are being emitted. Interestingly enough, when I dropped N off, SMA's dad was talking about a buck they shot while hunting, so deer were on my mind.

The front end is a bit thrashed, so that's going to cost some money, but nobody got hurt, with the exception of the deer. I feel bad for the animal, but I get a sense he or she didn't even look before jumping out onto the road, and there were cars that preceded me, which you'd think would have warned the animal that it wasn't a good time cross the road. Then again, what do I know?

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Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to frankrichter1951 for the pic.