Thursday, March 20, 2008

let sleeping cats lie too

Cici and Max sharing a heating pad. Max needs it - he is very old, arthritic, and skinny. This drafty old house irritates those old bones. Cici is a young cat, fat and not arthritic but she wants her fair share ( that would be everything she can see).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

sleet and turkey tracks

Sleet most of the day. Large avian friends have been visiting in the yard. Wild turkey tracks in the snow... Hold on guys - Spring will be here in two days!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

a word from Emerson...

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

-RW Emerson

Saturday, March 15, 2008

wood pile envy

This morning I had business in a near by town and so stopped by the local Agway to pick up California Natural for the dogs. What was sitting right smack in front of the store but neatly packaged and crated partial cords of wood. The sturdy wood crated contained a 1/3 of a cord according the contents label on the plastic wrap. Yes, that's right - PLASTIC WRAP. Comes with its own storage unit. I am amazed. And it is pricey! Buy a full cord and the buyer has paid dearly - more than 225 gallons #2 heating oil! Not being one who allows reality to stand in the way of my fantasies, I thought it would be wonderful to be that wealthy. I imagined asking "how much to deliver three of those crates of seasoned wood?" I also entertained the idea of a big fork lift heist and taking the crate home. I have neither access or ability - but it was fun imaging myself bumping down the highway with wood on the front of the lift! I think a fox must have the same satisfaction and angst when high tailing out of the barn yard with a unlucky chicken in its mouth! Gentle Reader, rest assured I did not resort to a life of crime. I went into fetch the dog kibble, PAID for it and took myself home. There are some rather annoying environmental issues here. Will deal with it another day...right now, I'm trying to find a place to put three imaginary plastic wrapped crates of wood!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Mountain in the View

Today has been pleasant. Went for a swim, followed by a trip to a junk shop and found a great little Japanese tea pot (love green tea), down to Mass to attend to some business and then have a Chinese lunch by myself. Had a chat with one of the waiters. He is a young man from Tibet. He has been following the violent events there in the blogospere. I gave him the Blog of Note about Tibet. It must be hard to be safe and know that others like you are not. After lunch took the back roads home.
Yesterday I read part of a blog written by a graduate student who was wondering about living alone vs living closer to his place of study. I am putting part of what he wrote here. It is in quotations but I can't remember the blog site. Will try to properly attribute this later.
“so the choice at hand is not just about living alone (which i do love and miss) versus living with other people. the choice is about living in a more engaged way: being in a central location where people drop by, hosting events at my house”
That is the central idea that I'm struggling with these days. It has been difficult living so far away from others because snow removal, heating, and isolation have been challenges. When I have been unwell it has been perhaps a little frightening. However, in general, living alone is not hard and as with the above author, I also like it. But living away from other people is another matter. I would like to be some where that people could, in fact, drop by and where asking folks for dinner wasn't asking them to take on a major safari. Conversation about politics, books, art, even sharing the treasure of the forest is nearly impossible here for at least 6 months of the year. Silence is dear when I draw or write or search out objects to photograph. Hearing other voices is also dear. Ah the "choice" indeed.

March hates roads!

Frost heaves. These early spring alligators are dangerous omnivores...favoring the delicacy of the season - automobiles and trucks! Pot holes, ridges and bumps in the roadway that severely jolt the human spine and destroys vehicular alignment. What is a small town to do? It costs a fortune to repave and resurface - that on top of plowing and sanding.
Here's a explanation of the frost heave - if you happen to be a lucky soul who has no idea what this is:
Frost heaving
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The patterned ground below Mugi Hill on Mount Kenya is caused by frost heaving.[1]
Frost heaving (or frost heave) occurs when soil expands and contracts due to freezing and thawing. This process can damage plant roots through breaking or desiccation, cause cracks in pavement, and damage the foundations of buildings, even below the frost line. Moist, fine-grained soil at certain temperatures is most susceptible to frost heaving.
1 Cause
2 Susceptible soil types
3 Frost creep: Soil locomotion due to frost heave
4 Structures created by frost heaving
5 See also
6 References
7 External links

[edit] Cause
Originally, frost heaving was thought to occur due simply to the freezing of water in soil. However, the vertical displacement of soil in frost heaving can be significantly greater than the expansion that occurs when ice freezes. In the 1960s, frost heaving was demonstrated in soil saturated in benzene and nitrobenzene, which contract when they freeze.
Frost creep, an effect of frost heave, involves a freeze-thaw action allowing mass movement down slope. The soil or sediment is frozen and in the process moved upward perpendicular to the slope. When thaw occurs the sediment moves downwards thus mass movement occurs.
The current understanding is that certain soil particles have a high affinity for liquid water. As the liquid water around them freezes, these soils draw in liquid water from the unfrozen soils around them. If the air temperature is below freezing but relatively stable, the heat of fusion from the water that freezes can cause the temperature gradient in the soil to remain constant. The soil at the point where freezing is occurring continues to draw in liquid water from the soils below it, which then freezes and builds up into an "ice lens". Depending on the soil's affinity for moisture and amount of moisture available, a significant amount of soil displacement can result.
The earliest known documentation of frost heaving came in the 1600s.

[edit] Susceptible soil types
Three conditions are generally necessary for frost heaving to occur:
freezing temperatures
a supply of water
a soil that has:
the ability to conduct water
a high affinity for water
saturation (i.e. the pore spaces are filled with water)
Silty and loamy soil types are susceptible to frost heaving. The affinity of a soil for water is generally related to the surface area of the particles that it is composed of. Clays have a high ratio of surface area to volume and have a high affinity for water. Larger particles like sand have a lower ratio of surface area to volume and therefore a low affinity for water.
Conversely, the hydraulic conductivity of a soil is related to the pore size. Soils composed of very small particles like clay have small pores and therefore low hydraulic conductivity. Soils composed of larger particles like sand have larger pores and a higher hydraulic conductivity.
The offsetting nature of these two requirements mean that clayey and sandy soils are less conducive to frost heaving than silt, which has a moderate pore size and moisture affinity.

[edit] Frost creep: Soil locomotion due to frost heave
Frost creep, an effect of frost heave, involves a freeze-thaw action allowing mass movement down slope. The soil or sediment is frozen and in the process moved upward perpendicular to the slope. When thaw occurs the sediment moves downwards thus mass movement, or locomotion, occurs.

[edit] Structures created by frost heaving
In Arctic regions, frost heaving for hundreds of years can create structures, known as pingos, as high as 60 metres. Frost heaving is also responsible for creating stones in unique shapes such as circles, polygons and stripes. A notable example is the remarkably circular stones of the islands of Spitsbergen.

[edit] See also
There you have it - probably more than you ever wanted to know about the dreaded frost heave!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Waiting for Spring

There is only perhaps 6 to 8 inches of snow left (if one ignores the snow banks on the side of the road). Those canoes, hibernating on the shore of a near by pond, lie in a sleepy doze, waiting for Spring and their owners to return. Patience! The advent of Spring's arrival is a mere week away and Summer follows warmly in her foot steps. We, here in one of the country's cold zones, are ready to welcome the sister seasons with open arms.

This morning my coon hound again managed to tangle himself if in the lead on his run. I mumbled curse words as I trudged out to release him. Then I noticed a pleasant crunch to the ice and snow pack -something that gave way! Not the same forbidding solid mass that threatens bones. I could see real ground at the base of the old apple tree. How glorious. I stopped cussing. After all the Reb-miester is a hound - he follows his nose. This morning that nose helped me see 'the forest through the trees' and BEHOLD THE EARTH - Eureka! :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Simon's Cat 'Let Me In!'

The forest and the trees

Relation-ships can be rather like that old saying "can't see the forest through the trees...". The dense forest and human relationships can be a tangle of branches and 'trunks' vying for space in the sun. When it goes well that occasional intertwining of branches is ...okay - now and then that intimacy is sublime. There can be other moments - times when the humans/ trees feel clautrophobic and mean. Not separate trees but elements of a huge organic forest - difficult to tell which is tree and which is forest. We fail to truly see one another because each has sprouted too many branches - suckers, that choke the life out of that little section of the forest floor. Light and oxygen and other essentials are more difficult to absorb. Sometimes we can stand back and say that 'elm/he/she' is nice or that 'ash'/she' is sturdy and other times we can't find the specimen we once admired because the forest appears to be a tangle of branches and leafs again. This week I heard from an X. The person is looking for money to pay bills. 'The water and electric have been shut off.' There is no financial obligation here. I am worried as I would be for any one without heat in this damnable cold winter. But I have no extra resources to help. Why did I think this specimen was so special a long time ago? The forest we eventually occupied was unbearably dense for both of us. It seems a bed of troublesome roots twiny vines is reaching out. I don't want to be there again. Damn.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wind, snow flurries and Spring

Ah, Ambivalence and both are thorns! So much of a serious nature that needs to be done and I'm wondering around Google search looking up things related to the up coming fishing season. I had planned to venture to Boston today to visit with friends for a few hours. Alas the wind is too high and I decided to stay put. Those 30 mph gusts blow wind down the chimney which results in at least smoke in the living room. And there is always the concern that the wind will down a tree, zero out the power and leave the house and it's inhabitants (the old cat and the parrot are of particular concern here as the dogs would have gone with me) frozen along with the water pipes. This line of reasoning (if that is what it is) is why I need to move. Too much time spent pondering the "what ifs". The weather drives this fear and then once started, I manage quite well on my own! :)

Here is a site with images of Trout. When I'm chilled I'll surf over here:

The Ave Maria is playing on the classical music station. Calming. Clear and melodic Latin hymns always take me back to quiet of a convent boarding school - Flintridge. That was so long ago - yet the influence persists to this day. A story for another day perhaps. Perhaps I should attend to the studying I need to complete for the damned certification class that I committed my time and effort to for the next few weeks. As Sister Mary Ann would say "Upward and Onward..."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

fog on the lake

The lakes and ponds are still frozen but not for much longer. I've included a photo of one of the ice fishing shacks that dot the lakes in this area through the winter. I noticed a number of men heading out on their ATVs to the center of these frozen bodies of water. It is drizzling and a low fog hangs above the snow and ice. The rain splatters to the wintry mix below and up comes the fog. I love to fish - but not ice fish! Still I am fascinated by the little shacks that appear and disappear so quickly. I wonder how many sink because someone underestimated the thickness of the Spring ice. Ice out can happen in a flash. I hear that some of these fisherman have elaborate equipment and some just show up to fish with a buddy and a radio. I would be in that latter group. To me, even though fishing is a warm weather sport, it is also about listening to a friend and perhaps a radio during the broadcast of a baseball game. A way to celebrate the delicious days of summer and connections to people. Now is the time to rummage through the tackle box, change line and debate whether this year I will stick to fly fishing or just plain old spin casting. I'm a 'middling' angler - I do it for the pure joy of the activity. I catch and release unless I am also camping - then tell me what is tastier than fresh trout on an open fire? Ah Spring 'who loves to get sweets into your list, put that in...'
Maple sugaring started this week. So no matter that there is still snow on the ground the collection of maple sap heralds the coming of Spring. It does means I've survived another season. That I can participate in the seeking out of local eatery to have a small stack of pancakes and fresh maple syrup. Ah, so good! One of the rewards of making it through winter...well almost through winter!

Friday, March 7, 2008

more wood...

I try to conserve but this week I ran out of wood. Fortunately I found one local man who sells an honest cord. It is pricey but it is seasoned but not dry. Can't get the new cord to the wood room out behind the house so am carting some onto the porch to keep it dry and have covered the rest until I can figure out where and how to stack it. It is exhausting to tote it up stairs and onto the porch while skidding on the ice. Still, what a relief not to worry about heat. This should do it for March and April. Oil is like gold - a tankful over $700.00
Tonight more rain. Flood warnings are up. Bonny and Clyde are awake in the basement...the constant rain has created a stream that seems to make the salamanders happy. Clyde is larger than he was in the Fall. Hibernation is a good thing! Rain and ice tomorrow. Wonder if I will see Bonnie and Clyde Jr's. Back to the business of wood stacking on Monday.
THIS SUNDAY is the BEGINNING of DAY LIGHT SAVINGS! Spring is a couple of weeks away. More LIGHT. More WARMTH! AND the fishing season will open. Bliss!

today a horoscope

When all else fails ...consider the stars...

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

March 1st and Winter persists

It is just after 7 AM and I sit at my desk watching yet another snow storm blanket the area with perhaps 8 or more inches of snow. It begs the question: when will this melt? Will it ever be warm enough again for it to melt? Obviously this long season is getting to me for I despair of ever feeling or seeing warm weather. Perhaps despair is to strong - I should say I worry. :) Hope I can hold on to the feeling of this frigid winter when it is 90 F and humid. New England is that way. There are folks all over the world who would chuckle at this whining. Snow is up to and over their roof tops. I apologize to those unknown souls for being a wimp. I'm tired of the cold and the battle to clear a walk way or drive to work on ice. Fortunately, I am home for several weeks. Am taking a certification course and have the luxury of sitting this storm out. Perhaps by the time I have to return to work it will be mud season and we will be heading toward a real Spring. For any one who doesn't know it: DAY LIGHT SAVINGS begins next Sunday. Bliss. Even the manipulation of time to create the illusion of more light in March is A-OK with me.

The fire wood is almost gone. So three cords lasted from November through February. Have 5/8ths of a tank of oil. I have no idea how long that will last. Another cord of wood would be good but there is no where to unload it as there is so much snow in the drive way.

Another trek to a warmer climate may be in the future. I've managed this winter but it has been difficult. It's a physical challenge for a nearly 60 year old woman to do all this shoveling and wood hauling and to live in a house that is somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees. Still, now I know I can do it and there is something to that. It is too far from people. No worries about my dogs barking but the sight of other people and simple conversations are missed. I've learned to live with an amazing amount of quite. So there is something in all that but it is not how I want to spend the rest of my days on earth - however many that may be.

The little section of the world that I gaze out on is serene. That heavy blanket of snow on ground and tree is graceful. Sometimes I forget what normal human noise is. Bird sounds are the only intrusion here. Occasionally the stream near by breaks through it's icy lid and sends a message of busy, rushing energy. Those "Sounds of Silence" - all a delight to the ear. Still I ponder warmer times. Perhaps if I had a snow mobile or had the physical ability to snow shoe I would have different thoughts of winter. Whenever we are expanded in ability life seems more a joy than a task.

Tomorrow I will head to town for a swim in an indoor pool and pretend that I am somewhere tropical for a half an hour!