Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Fearless One

If it hadn't been for the promised spectacle of a total eclipse to distract from our electricity woes, I think I might have gone stir crazy. So, still without power or Internet, we drove to Hyde Park in Vermont, just 3.5 hours away, right in the band of totality. We took in the scenic Kancamagus Highway - named for the Native American chief known as 'Fearless One' - as part of our route. It was a Sunday afternoon, and there were very few cars on the road, which surprised us - it's probably the emptiest we've ever seen this pass; weren't other people going this way to get to the eclipse too, we wondered?

We stopped at the Wagan Ground (Meeting Place) Overlook, which offers spectacular views of the Swift river watershed - a most impressive sight.

It turns out that I photographed the exact same tree that caught my eye this time, on a previous trip:

April 7, 2024
Jan 29, 2020
It was fantastic to see the snow and ice still giving the trees a blended look

The mountain outlines looked majestic

This last shot is a quick, through-the-windshield pic taken as we drove through Franconia Notch. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

Out on the Water

I was itching to get out on the water after the spring storm - there was still snow everywhere, but no ice on the lake, and my kayak didn't need electricity! Dale took this photo of me setting off against a bleak landscape.

The winds were still strong, and I was buffeted about a lot, so I had to use my paddle to anchor myself while I took a few pics.

It seems weird to see snow everywhere and a fluid lake at the same time!

The first tree barrier across our cove - it hasn't quite dropped all the way down, but the squirrels have found this new highway to be very useful. As the tree fell one way, the roots slid back up and out the other way, gouging a big trough beneath it on the lake side.

Our house in snow, from the lake. I didn't stay out long - even though I was well and warmly dressed, the weather wasn't very welcoming.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Storm Aftermath

Sights from the days after the devastation! With some snow melt (YAY for warm-ish temperatures) helping us out, we managed to drive along our street in our little compact Honda Fit, but the route was treacherous, sinuous (avoiding trees) and tricky (downed lines), and there was no outlet if oncoming traffic appeared. 

We tried to pick up Internet at the local Dunkin Donuts and then our public library, to no avail (the entire town was down), but we were lucky enough to pick up a cell signal, which we used as a hotspot, at a friend's home situated high on a hill (they had no power or Internet either). We desperately wanted information about the extent and duration of the devastation - and with it, hope for deliverance. We often see warnings and hype about preparing for storms and outages, but they don't always materialize, so this time I hadn't paid much attention to psyching myself up for this eventuality. I was so miserable - there's only so much crocheting and reading one can do before going stir crazy. And going to bed so much earlier than usual because there was nothing to do didn't seem to win me the extra zzzzz's that would have helped my mood - I lay awake for way more hours than I would if I'd stayed up late and then gone to bed at my regular time.

Photo of us enjoying our hotspot (credit: G Carignan)

I didn't weather this outage well at all - I couldn't find my usual resiliency hat, and was bad-tempered through it all. It was awful, and I felt awful for feeling awful about this minor and temporary blip in my otherwise idyllic life (I have all the luxuries and conveniences I need - we have a generator, too). I felt as if I had just grown too old for this kind of camping (no hot water), and I no longer enjoyed it. I was also taken aback by how reliant I am on the Internet - I couldn't even search through my electronic recipe collection and bake lovely things when the generator was running.

These awesome "Power Rangers" came by on the 4th day of our disconnect (the first activity we'd seen with regard to restoring our services - power line crews were initially held at bay in a staging lot until the winds had died down, so that delayed restoration) and began freeing up power lines and snagged boughs. Boy, were we happy to see them! Deliverance from all inconveniences came the following day.

But ... the house is a mess after not really dealing with things properly during those dark days. My blog is a mess, and the outdoor/yard cleanup task is IMMENSE - but at least we have power again, and the Internet, so we can happily use all the power tools and recipes we wish without complaint!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Snowed In in Spring

What a wildly windy and heavy, wet snowfall (18 inches/45 cm) we endured on April 4 - it looked deceptively sublime and beautiful at first glance ... 

Photo: Dale Schultz

Photo: Dale Schultz

... but the tree and power line damage caused by the weight of snow and pounding winds brought York county to a standstill. We lost power and Internet at around 4am that day (some cell towers weren't functioning either), so we were quite cut off and blocked in. Many healthy trees that were already in the business of producing catkins and flowers for this year's reproductive efforts, were damaged and broken, falling onto our utility lines and bringing them down all along the street and throughout our neighborhood.

Photo: Dale Schultz
There was no getting out of here in the immediate future, as even the snow plows were unable to drive where trees blocked roads and power lines lay across the roads.

Photo: Dale Schultz

It was sad to see so many broken trees - a total of 9 fell down across our cove, some of which lifted up sections of our boardwalk as their roots tipped up. 

Photo: Dale Schultz

Dale and Linus did some community tree-cutting at various spots along our street, though there were clearly some that needed qualified linesmen to tackle - we knew we'd have to wait our turn. 

Photo: Dale Schultz

I've never seen such extreme environmental devastation before - it looked as if a hurricane had ripped through the area, or we'd just survived the apocalypse. When the snow eventually stopped, and we'd done some clearing, the damage and destruction was even more horrific to see - it was clear we'd be without power for some time.

Friday, April 5, 2024

E is for ... Eulogized Entity

Cathartes aura is the eulogized entity that is the star of my latest alliterated haiku. I love seeing Turkey vultures return every spring; they do a great job of cleaning up carrion - the janitors of the grasslands!

Elegant flier,

Evolved to Eat carrion

Excellent Eyesight

Extensive in range,

Established return Each spring -

Exquisite, Esteemed!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

A Hot Cross Fiasco

Why do I keep doing this to myself? I still insist on baking things that are way beyond my skill (or patience) set, or I do it under duress, like when lack of sleep interferes with my coping skills -insert caterwauling cat here- and then I wonder why they don't turn out as nicely as I'd like, or why I feel so defeated at completion.

I've made Hot Cross Buns in the past, but as I get older, I see my capabilities slowly withering away. It means I have less and less patience and desire to see multi-step baking dishes through till the end, despite ultimately relishing the fruits of my labors. I'm frazzled and annoyed by the time I'm finished, and then there's a mound of clean-up!

Those dough crosses are not meant to be so 'broad' but I no longer have a working piping pen with nozzles (it was made of plastic and eventually broke), so I thought I'd easily make do what I've seen on the Great British Bake Off - use a cut off corner of a Ziploc bag. I had to make the cut large enough to allow the gummy paste to ooze through the hole, but it produced a wide swathe of a cross that wasn't to my liking.

Furthermore, whilst dissolving sugar in the water/milk glaze, I turned aside to take a drink of water, and in that short moment, the sticky glaze erupted from the bowl onto the microwave turntable. Gahhhhhhhhh! Sweet, sticky residue to clean up as well, as if I didn't have enough going on.

Here is said caterwauling cat, being totally adorable as I write this confession!

They did taste yummy, though, and I'll probably end up doing this again next year. Because ... well, maybe it is worth it after all!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Soapbox Debbie, not Derby

"... those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." 

— John F. Kennedy

I.E. don't let the problems of the past or the complications of today stop you in your tracks, for it will hamper your growth and surety of a worthwhile future. Have hope, and DO something!

And yes, that goes for climate change, too! We have made many environmental mistakes in the past, and knew the reckoning was coming because we weren't doing anything about it, and now it is upon us! The Copernicus Climate Change Service recently established that "2023 is confirmed as the warmest calendar year in global temperature data records going back to 1850" and both January and February of 2024 have followed this pattern (Hottest Year on Record).

ACT! We can still do things that will help - learning how to be more accountable for our place in the environment as we move forward is essential. We must work on, and accept the costs of, securing sustainable and clean energy options for a continued future. Making sacrifices, consuming less, wasting less, changing bad energy-habits, and consciously considering other life forms, by establishing native refugia for displaced species, will ensure our own species' future. We are tied together, and WE have the tools!

OK, time to get off my soapbox ...

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

March's Reading

Not as much reading got done in March as in the first 2 months of the year, but I got in quite the mix - some fiction, some not, some American, some not, some Native American, some not ...

"Killers of the Flower Moon" blew me away with its revealing exposure of the disgusting and harsh treatment the Osage Indians suffered at the hands of the first Westerners. A piece of history we might wish to forget, but which ought to have a place in the history books, nevertheless. It's time to find out about our shameful past.

And Tommy Orange's "Wandering Stars" ... devastatingly real.

A line from Splinters by Leslie Jamison stood out for me:
"We aren't loved in the ways we choose; we're loved in the ways we are loved."

Monday, April 1, 2024

Now You See Him, Now You Don't

This is the actual photo I managed to take from our moving car. I was disappointed that the man's head is obscured by icy branches, so I waved a magic wand,

(Google Photo's Magic Eraser feature) to remove him from the photo. Once you know it's been 'doctored', you can easily spot the blurriness where he had once been. Ha! It looks as if he's gone up in a puff of smoke! (Anyone need help disappearing for a while? I'll take your picture, and let Google take care of it for you ...)

I really liked the human interest by having him in the pic, but the unfortunate placement of the branch ruined it for me. Then Google suggested I "stylize" it and got these results.

It definitely brightened the scene, making the light less dull, but it makes the colors seem so artificial.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Dirty Snow

Look at this faintly dirty snow photographed in a pristine area (not a parking area or highway) after our recent snowstorm - it shows that there are fine particulates in the air of which we're not usually aware. They're only visible here because of the contrast with the substrate on which they have landed. The uneven textured surface of the snow also highlights the discoloration.

The dirt could be soot from wood smoke, or dust and dirt from the roads, or other pollutants such as vehicle exhausts and old pesticides. Whatever it is, it's been carried down through the air by the snow and we're breathing it while our bodies do their best to filter it out.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Pretty Pattern

 A very pretty pattern up close ...

But a dreary sign of what's really going on outside ...

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Ice Art

Glistening landscapes

Of trees encrusted in ice

Like sculpted glass forms

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Is the Honeymoon Over?


These two adorables have been testing me! Our little darlings wake us during the night, either with disturbing-sounding vocalizing (Fluffalo), or extreme sports games in the wee hours (Peep). I love that they're having so much fun in their new environment, but I do wish they'd confine their Olympic cavorting and caterwauling to the daytime hours, and NOT when I'm sleeping!

After 4 weeks of adoring our 2 new feline houseguests, and wallowing in cat-cuteness, there have been days when I'm so tired that I feel as if I might burst into tears if one more thing is asked of me! It brings me back to parenting toddlers, and oh my! I no longer have the stamina for it.

Darling, pathetically-needy and loving Fluffalo has become my shadow. He DEMANDS contact. And heck, I must say I love it that he chooses ME.

But ... he's been tailing Dallas (resident cat) relentlessly wherever she goes, or keeps advancing menacingly towards her, even as she's yowling "NO." He keeps at it without letting up, and then acts as if his threatening advances are innocent.

He's also INSISTENT that he ought to be allowed on countertops and tables, a big "No-no" in our house. Did I mention the word relentless? I'm worn out from scolding and chastising (but it's not as if I wasn't warned ahead of time). How can he not melt your heart, though? Fluffalo usually starts the day in the negatives on the cuteness scale because of his nightly yowling, but manages to exceed way more than 100% before days' end. 

And then there's Peep - silky, talkative, and perfectly delightful. Fluffalo's feisty partner in crime has so much more dignity, smarts, and cunning. She manages to stay under the radar - I suspect she's the mastermind behind the plot to send Fluffalo out into battle with Dallas, so he can test the waters and pave the way for her ladyship.

She's so playful, and lightning fast at pouncing games. Never mind "the pitter-patter of tiny feet - I think Peep's the main culprit when it comes to thundering back and forth across the slippery floors at night, rumpling my floor mats into trip-able floor obstacles.

I love seeing her shred egg boxes for fun (I think she imagines she's tearing up prey) - it's so much fun to watch, despite the awful mess it makes. Her little vocalizations as she arrives at our side or gets stroked on a lap are unbelievably endearing (she usually chooses Dale for laps) - it's like a mix of a goat bleating and an old woman who's had her voice-box removed! She has managed to stay consistently adorable despite her one BIG flaw of charging around like a herd of elephants in the early hours of the day/night.

Despite all this, I totally adore them! It's the same as I felt about my own kids, and would go into battle for them! I love the feeling of them cozying up at the foot of our bed - if only they'd sleep ALL night through. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

March's Mirth

What a storm that was! The snow turned into a mixture of ice, sleet, rain and freezing rain - all pretty much the same in the way it compacts the airy snow beneath and creates a hard crust on top, sometimes several inches thick, making it hard to shovel and plow. And we had some traveling to do the next day ...

We encountered trees down along the back roads, traffic lights out, roads closed, and credit cards not working at gas stations because it was too cold! We've yet to finish shoveling out - plastic snow shovels just wouldn't do it.

Views from a moving car (in the passenger seat, of course) ... it was quite magical, and if it hadn't been for our prior commitment, we'd have missed out!