I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Sound of - - - - Break-up

I bet you thought I was going to say 'music'. Well, keep that in mind, break-up is rather musical.

My sister sent a message to much of the rest of my family, telling them of my post about when my brothers came up here to visit. One thing she said was that, to me, my life seems mundane, even boring. Though not boring, to me my life is mundane. This is my life. These kinds of things happen all the time - sort of. That said, I love my life, and if your questions can prompt me to examine some part of my life in such a way that can allow you to share the experience, then I'm thrilled. In reply to that email, which included me this time, my brother wanted to know what breakup sounded like. So let's see if I can make you hear with words.

I've been hashing this over in my head for hours and the best word I can come up with is 'Pow'. That's Pow with a lot of emphasis on 'P', and the 'ow' rather foreshortened. Say it in your head with lots of 'P' and the 'ow' really short and you have most of the sound. Now, the next step is to imagine that sound coming from a drum, and that drum is in a large empty room - think echos and acoustics. Yeah, I'm getting into music.

With all that in mind, I need to talk a little about the ice. The river is a pretty big river I guess. Having grown up in the Great American Desert, my experience with rivers is rather limited, however, The Yentna is probably about as wide as your eight-lane highway and that's including the meridian in the middle. And as rivers go, there's a give and take on that width.

As we all know, ice expands as it freezes, and as rivers go, as ice freezes the water that's creating it is also going down - running away faster than it's freezing and faster than new spring water can feed it. However, the water doesn't run away too fast, else the ice would be left high and quite dry and very dangerous. During the course of freeze-up, as the ice builds in mass, it follows the dictates of gravity and eventually sags. If it sags enough, water is pushed up through cracks, if there are any, and around the edges. This water pools on the top of the ice and freezes, creating yet another layer of ice. This happens to some extent every time the temperature warms up. Warm temperature somewhere means some snow melted somewhere upriver which puts more water under the ice, but now that the ice is thick and heavy, the water has nowhere to go but on top. More ice is added on the bottom too during the coldest days. Ultimately, during the course of the winter, upwards of three feet of ice has accumulated. There's more some places and less some places but three feet is a good average.

Needless to say, three feet of ice is a lot of ice, and it takes quite a bit of force to break it, and it is exerting that force on itself all the time. That volume of ice trying to expand as ice does, creates a lot of force.

Along comes spring, longer days, warmer days, days that stay warmer longer, and along with that comes more water. As you all know ice floats, even huge volumes of ice like I've just described. However, by now all that ice is really stuck to the banks and leaking around the edges, though it happens quite a bit, can't happen fast enough. The ice breaks.

Now back to our sound and those drums. Have you ever watched a crack develop across a windshield? It starts with a rock thrown up by someone's tire, and then this line creeps across the glass, maybe it's a single line, maybe it grows fingers that also creep and grow. Ice does the same thing only pretty fast. In your imagination, place one of those drums along the ice at every potential corner, crinkle, and finger and at every joint of said finger. As soon as the first crack gives way, at the first drum's Pow, a domino effect occurs, and by the time the sound from one drum reaches the next one, it sounds off, and then the next, and then the next, all in a row, all echoing, and each one of them a tiny fraction of a different note.

Here we get into sound-waves. As sound travels away from you, the note gets lighter. If it is coming toward you, it gets heavier.

Standing on the edge of the river when the 'drums' sound off, whether it starts in front of you and runs off away up or down river, or whether is starts somewhere away from you and travels toward you, it has a profound affect on you. That echoing PowPowPow (the series may be as few as a handful or take as long as a minute) will enthrall, thrill and frighten you all at once. You are enthralled at the amazing sound, though no visible change took place in front of you. You are thrilled by the magnitude of power so displayed though you can scarcely grasp what that power really is. And you are frightened as the sound sends chills up your spine and goose-flesh down your arms.

All of this brings me to a story that happened to me during my first winter out here. We were care-taking at a lodge up Lake Creek and we'd made friends with the care-takers at Riversong across the Yentna. Now eventually both the care-takers at Riversong and us got snowmachines but I don't rightly remember if either of us had them yet. We probably did since there was a trail and it was more than a foot trail. Anyway, I like to walk, and for a reason I can't remember anymore, I was walking back from Riversong one nice day. I was out in the middle of that river, walking on upwards of likely more than three feet of ice and at least another several feet of snow - it was a REALLY heavy snow year that year thanks to Mount Readoubt - when the drums sounded off. PowPowPowPow - the sound traveled directly across in front of me, and then the ice under my feet dropped about six inches. In the front of my mind, I know that nothing the ice could do right now was a danger to me, but to have that much ice just go down, no matter the inches, under my feet was heart stopping. Needless to say, I froze in my tracks. A few feet in front of me I could see the crack - the trail now had a very visible step up.

The ice didn't break because of my presence, my weight was as a feather when compared to all that ice. The break would have happened whether I had made my trip five minutes earlier or later. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. There was no water, no danger at all and no further drum-roll, yet it took me what seemed like forever to start breathing again. No, I didn't hurry off the ice, I was in no danger, it was all so very awesome and I've never been so scared in my life. It is one of those experiences I will never forget.

I hope I was able to help you hear break-up. It really is something worth the experience.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Getting Supplies in the Fall

Getting supplies here is something that takes planning. Normally, I get about 95% of my supplies and fuel during the course of the summer. This winter, we plan to spend a few months in Eagle River with my son and his wife, and without someone here to keep the fire going, having things that could be damaged by freezing needs to be kept at a minimum. Having things that need to be kept frozen needs to be kept at a minimum too because there's no guarantee temperatures will remain below freezing. So, instead of bringing home cases of meats and vegetables and filling the freezer, I only ordered a few family packs to get us by for a couple months. Said damageables - those that are left over when we leave - will go to town with us.

This plan to go to town, made ordering supplies during the summer next to impossible. I was able to order a few things, but I was reluctant to burden my boss with a bunch of shopping - she just loves to go shopping. Therefore, what I needed to do was get my supplies later and by a different avenue.

Later came yesterday, and my husband thought you all might be interested in reading about it.

Denali Flying Service flies for us frequently - fuel, transportation, and even supplies. They are a family owned business and Kirstin runs the office and does the expediting while Berry does the flying. Earlier this week, I called in my order and Berry flew it out yesterday at four in the afternoon. Earlier in the day would have been nice - to give us more time to get it all to the house, but that was the available slot.

When you all go shopping, you load your shopping cart with your goodies, pay for it at the cashier's counter then wheel it out to your car. After you drive home, it's a simple matter of carrying the handy-dandy little white shopping bags into the house and putting your purchases away. And what is under your feet all this time? Nice smooth linoleum floor in the store. Asphalt in the parking lot. Sidewalk on the way to the house. Please, keep that in mind as you read on. I didn't get the pleasure of doing my own shopping, so all things linoleum and asphalt or concrete was not for me to enjoy.

My husband and I discussed distances. We've never had a machine, ATV or snowmachine, that had a working odometer until now, so I always told everyone that it was a quarter mile from the house to the boat. It takes me about ten minutes or so to walk it and I seldom hurry. However, my husband says that our new snowmachine has a working odometer and it says that walk is about half a mile. I also googled it and I guess I've been wrong all these years. About half a mile it is.

From that point to where Berry can land the plane, is another ten or so minute walk, so that's another half mile, though that second half mile is no stroll. I had to cross a little creek. It isn't very wide, a couple steps worth is all, but I'm not one to jump across, and getting my feet wet when the water is near freezing is not a smart alternative. We have a little twelve foot, flat-bottom boat that's easy to move around, so guess what - instant bridge. My little bridge has been across that creek for about a week now - I needed to check the gravel bar to make sure it was clear of sticks and such so Berry could land safely.

Yesterday, we left the house at 3:30. Since our four-wheeler's once flat tire was flat again, we took the snowmachine down with a small sled on behind (no, there is no snow yet). At the boats, there's a hill to go down, and since my boat is still in the middle of everything, the snowmachine had to stay at the top of the hill. We walked down the hill and across the my little bridge, and then we drug the little boat across to the slough. My husband paddled down to the gravel-bar while I walked along the bank. As banks go, it was not level - maybe fifteen or twenty degrees. And all of it is littered with melon-sized rocks and smaller - prime ankle-twister territory, but none of it is loose, nor is it slippery since all the rocks are dusted with left-over river silt. Along the way is also two now high and dry sweepers - thankfully, the water was low enough to make getting past these two obstacles relatively easy. Though my husband had the easy trip, I made it to the gravel-bar before he did and at the same time Berry landed. Perfect timing - almost never happens.

After unloading the nice little white bags, boxes of vegetables, and various jugs of motor oil and cooking oil, we chatted for a few minutes, catching up on the happenings in Berry's life. New computer, face-lift time for the plane - the usual. Then he was off.

We loaded our supplies into the boat - I carried the eggs, and then it was the trip in reverse for us. Don paddled the boat and I walked. The slough is very low, but there's still a bit of current, not much since any water coming into the slough is likely filtering through the gravel up at the mouth, but enough to make paddling harder going this direction. However, Don discovered that much of the route he was taking, had, over the years, filled in, enabling him to pole as much as paddle.

Back at the beginning of that part of our journey, we unloaded the boat and carried our supplies to the little creek, then we had to drag the boat over and recreate my little bridge. At this point some things could be handed across and some things could be tossed, but there were still things that had to be carried every step of the way. Just so you know, the level of the water is eight to ten feet below normal traveling water levels so my little bridge over it's little creek is on the bottom of the river. That said, all these supplies had to be carried up the bank to where I have the boats parked for the winter. The last thing to come up was my little bridge. Have we worked hard enough yet? We're only half way home.

I brought my kiddy sled to help with this part and it was up the last hill and to the snowmachine. In my sled went boxes and heavy bags and my husband carried those items that had handles. Between the two of us we each made four trips up and down that hill and there's still a 60 lb bag of dog-food down there. I'll get it tomorrow with my kiddy sled.

Now it was the half mile trip back to the house. My husband drove - I walked, in my kiddy sled was the eggs, the ramen and creamer. The ramen was crushable, the creamer didn't have any handles to thread a bungee-cord through, and of course there was the eggs. Once I reached the house, we took a few minutes break, and then it was carting it all in. Huge sigh here. The task is done and we're all tucked in and cozy until we head to town.

Needless to say, I was too tired to do much editing, so I did a little Facebook, cooked supper in the oven, and then it was off to bed for me. Also needless to say, if I can avoid this scenario, I do. Though we almost always get some supplies in this manner, I usually do this much later so we can use the snowmachine to haul everything, including me, all the way from the plane to the house. MUCH easier.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Day in my Life

A teacher friend of mine wanted to know what a day in my life was like. I told her to let me think on it a couple days and then I'd put something up - I must apologize for taking so long. Describing a day in my life isn't an easy task. My day is not your average work-a-day schedule. Sure, I have the normal daily tasks and they happen at normal times of the day, but even in those things, the changing seasons have an effect. My mornings are likely the most stable part of my day. Regardless of the season, pretty much the first thing I do is make coffee, check my emails and do my advertising on Facebook and Twitter. After that, the seasons play tiddlywinks with my daily schedule.

In the summer - from June to roughly the first part of September - I leave for work at seven in the morning. Returning home after work is a mite flexible, but mostly I leave there at five, or when I run out of work, whichever comes first. This concrete part of my life dictates my summer mornings, and now that I have internet, I get up at five, which gives me two hours for my morning ritual. As soon as I get back home, once again, I catch up on my emails, but also during that time, I'm fixing supper and possibly doing a few homely chores. On my one day a week off, I burn trash, wash dishes maybe clean the house a bit, whatever comes up that needs doing. Frankly, during the summer, my day seems really crunched.

During the winter, my day is much more relaxed. My morning starts at dawn, which isn't so bad since dawn is around eight in the morning this time of year. Once again I fix coffee, check my emails and do my advertising, but also mixed into my mornings, now that it's freezing at night, I go out and split up an armload of firewood. As it gets colder, that chore will migrate to the afternoon so I don't have to go out first thing in the morning before coffee.

Long around noonish, the battery on my computer is about run out so I go out and start the generator. I treat myself to a couple Facebook games for an hour or two and then I spend another hour or two on homely chores, whatever needs doing. This is usually the time of year when I dig into the corners of the house and scrape out the year's accumulation of gunk. This year I scrubbed walls too. (I don't do that every year, but I suppose I really should.) As soon as whatever chore I set for myself is finished for the day, I once again sit down in front of my computer. I quickly check through my emails again but really I'm checking for comments on my blogs and catching up on Goodreads, then it's on to writing or editing. Currently it's mostly editing, but once in a while I get a bur and need to write down an idea to be developed later. This sometimes happens in the middle of the night too. I love writing in the middle of the night - it's so quiet.

Supper and after also happens in front of the computer, and if my husband can leave the TV off (never), it's back to editing or writing for me. If the TV connection sucks (80-90% of the time), he demands a movie (DVD). If I get wrapped up in the movie, I'll usually go back to Facebook and one of my games or I'll go to Goodreads and chat with my friends there.

Usually, somewhere between ten at night and midnight, I fold and it's off to bed for me to begin it all again tomorrow.

Well folks, that's a simplified look at my day. There are always little events waiting around the corner to throw a monkey-wrench into whatever I might develop for a schedule, but as you can see, the most important thing I try to do revolves around my writing, the rest is unfortunately necessary and therefore must be done at some point.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I've Got Mail - Maybe

I’ve gotten more mail in the last year and a half than I’ve ever gotten all together in my life, but it’s all email. Getting regular mail, or snail mail, as it’s come to be called, is difficult to say the least. When the kids were going to school, it was merely an issue of making an extra stop after school, but even so mail only came twice a week. Back then, we took great pains to not have monthly bills; the only one we had was the phone bill and we kept that one paid over the phone, we still do. The rest of the mail was just junk mail anyway most of the time. There were the occasional Christmas cards from assorted family but all in all, there was really very little.

Now that the kids are grown and gone, getting the mail is not so easy. With the post office being over twenty-seven miles up river, and since I just don’t get that direction any more, going to the post office has to be a planned affair. I’m old and lazy these days so the trip pretty much kills my day. During the summer, it’s a two or more hour run up there, a delightful chat with Joe, the Post Master and maybe a nice visit with Norma, his wife, and then it’s another two hour trip home - faster going down river, but really, it’s not different enough to calculate - maybe twenty minutes faster going home than going up - I never really did the math. Of course you have to remember that during the summer, I’m also working at least six days a week. Now really, on my one day off, do you think I want to spend it running to the post office? As it is, I have six days of chores at home to catch up on.

Sometimes, my husband will check out the fishing up river and he will stop in at the post office when he does. Sometimes my boss does the same thing and he’ll pick up my mail too. Everyone loves Joe, and everyone likes to show off our unique post office. Occasionally some of my other assorted neighbors will collect the river mail and deliver it down the river and sometimes someone will bring mine over to work for me. It’s always a nice pleasure when that happens. All in all, if I can’t get my mail brought down to me, I don’t go get it until I can do it by snowmachine. It’s still a long trip, but I can pick my day, a nice sunny day. I can bundle up, put my sunglasses on if the sun’s shining, and toodle on up at a comfortable speed, enjoying the view as I go. I suppose I really should be more sociable on these trips but really, I just want to get there and get home. I really am kind of lazy when it comes to that sort of thing and I never have been a visiting kind of person.

There are great chunks of the year when a trip to the post office, or anywhere for that matter, is quite impossible. From somewhere in September usually to somewhere in December if I’m lucky the water goes down too far to travel by boat and I need to wait until we get a couple feet of snow before we can go anywhere by snowmachine. You see, down Twentymile Slough, where I live, there is at least two places where we need to shovel ramps in order to get on and off the river. One ramp is right here where we park the boats. That gets us down onto the river, but Twentymile Slough is a wicked witch sometimes and there is one place between us and the Yentna River where it only freezes over safe enough for travel at like twenty below (that’s Fahrenheit) (roughly -50C). So, rather than wrestle with this spot, we go around it, which calls for another ramp.

Breaking a trail all the way out of here is more than just shoveling those ramps. You need to be somewhat skilled at driving a snowmachine in powder snow, not my strong point. That’s Don’s department; I’m the one who gets to do the shoveling. Along with the first ramp, we generally pack and mark a runway down on the river, so while I’m shoveling, Don’s going up and down the river, packing the runway.

I shovel some and then walk down and up it to pack it some and then shovel some more. I keep doing that until I can walk up it without crawling, then Don drives up and down it a time or two. Maybe there’s some more shoveling, but generally, if I can walk it more or less, it’s good enough for the machine to make it up. Then it’s a day or two to let it harden. When we’ve recovered enough from doing that, it’s the seven-mile trip out to the main river, the Yentna, with its one necessary ramp about halfway there.

My laziness factor comes into effect here too. Once was the time when I would get a couple week’s work at the lodge during the Iditarod, but that hasn’t happened for a few years now, so the need to break that trail out comes down to my one post office run. Yeah, I only go up there once. Yeah, I’m that lazy, but really, I never have that much to go up there after. And it’s not as if we get a lot of visitors. In all the time we’ve lived down here, we’ve only had a handful of visitors stop in and that’s not counting the neighbors who live down here - two, one who long since moved down to the lower 48 and our next door neighbor who only comes out on holidays - he stops in at least once every winter.

At any rate, my need to break out a trail I’ll use only once is really rather slim. I think, now that my son is living in Eagle River, I’ll change my mailing address. It will be a lot easier for him to drop our mail off at a plane coming our way than for me to do all that work for a leisurely toodle to the post office.

In the spring, from somewhere in April to somewhere near the end of May, the river is once again untravelable. In April the sun in the afternoon is starting to do its work on the snow and the trails start getting soft - sink far enough and you hit melt water on top of the ice. At this time of year, you only have to sink a few inches to see water. There’s still plenty of ice down there, but you can still get stuck if you’re not careful, and I’m not strong enough to get unstuck. Walking on a trail that’s soft enough where a snow machine sinks is impossible unless you want to get wet up to your knees or higher - I see myself crawling. I don’t let myself get into that kind of situation.

Sometime around the end of April or first part of May, enough water has melted to float the ice - breakup, we call it. The ice will lift up, break apart and get carried down the river. This can be a very dangerous part of the year. The ice will jam up somewhere and the water behind it will build up, sometimes to near flood level. It did that here a couple years ago. I had to go down and babysit the boats. Not that they were in much danger of being carried away, but I wanted to ensure that they remained in the river when the water went back down. They kept drifting to the side, which would have left them high and dry, and so much harder to launch. As long as they were in the river, it didn’t matter if the water going down left them sitting on the bottom again, they wouldn’t be that way for long.

When the water rises high enough to lift the ice over whatever obstacle it was caught on, the whole thing gushes down to the next obstacle where the process starts all over again. The further these jams get down river, the less affect they have on what’s left behind, and all the time, both the sun and the water is eating away at the ice. This has all passed by the end of May and enough snow has melted to bring the water level back up to normal, or up far enough where travel by boat is again possible, and very shortly after that, I’m off to work again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Spring come Summer

Originally posted on my primary blog on May 7, 2010. As a window into my life, it belongs here.


Only seven days ago, I was complaining about spring yuck - now it's almost over. There's only a few spots of snow left, and the frost heaves along the trail are rapidly melting. They'll be muddy for a little while, but they're easy enough to walk around. I had to cut off the tops of a pair of hip waders so I could cross the little runoff creek that crosses the trail but the water is only ankle deep and it too will be gone soon enough.

I walk down to the river now every day, to check on the water level and to make sure the boats are alright. Yesterday, we had our first thunderstorm of the season but the rain didn't last long. The day before, or rather that night, it rained pretty heavy for part of the night. Now, though less than half of my water buckets, carefully filled with melted snow, was available, they are now three quarters full of rain water. It's always a gamble to see if I make the gap between enough snow to melt and either the first rains or until I can get to work. The well there is too deep to freeze, and even if there isn't water to all the buildings, there's water at the well and I can bring some home in jugs. It's what I do for water during the summer if it doesn't rain enough.

The last few days, I've been able to go out and do some raking. Always, in the spring, I regret being so lazy during the winter, but always, at the end of summer, I'm so ready to be lazy for the winter.

Today I chopped some wild rose bushes and elders out of what used to be my strawberry patch. We'll have to see just how many strawberries are left there. Not really much of a problem though. Over the years, they've spread quite a ways into the lawn surrounding the place. If there aren't many on the mound, I'll just have to do some transplanting.

I also trimmed a bunch of baby birch trees from around a stump, leaving one, the prettiest one, to grow. It was all a task I'd put off for too long. I also uncovered some rocks I'd put there ages ago; they now line my flower garden. Since my iris are sprouting already, I'll have to clean that up soon - maybe tomorrow.

Such is another look at my life. I'll be starting to work soon. Maybe I'll talk about that some too.

A Spring Rant

Originally posted on my primary blog on May 1, 2010. This blog didn't exist then.


Here at the end of April the beginning of May, I thought I'd give a bit of a rant. In case you haven't caught on yet, I don't really care much for spring. Oh yes, April showers bring May flowers and all that, but for me, that never really quite happens. For me the snows are melting quickly, leaving behind soggy ground and months worth of man's sins. Out here, 'man's sins' are few and far between, but in the cities and towns, they're everywhere. There's the little plastic shopping bags dangling from a bush or a fence, invisible under the snow all winter long. There's the bag of trash that some dog tore up before it got to the dumpster and never completely picked up (if at all). It's as if no one wants to touch trash after it's gone into a trash-bag once. At that point it suddenly becomes totally contaminated - life threatening if ever touched again without a full-body contamination suit like you see on TV. Then the snow melts away, revealing plastic water or juice bottles, or chip bags, or used paper towels, or the empty soda cans. We all know what we throw away. All the little wrappers, boxes, papers, clippings, and even hair from a trim, now all becoming visible as the snow melts away.

Currently, out in my soggy front yard, littered with snowmachines that have yet to be put away for the summer, is a carpet of dog hair. Last December and January, my dog decided it was time to shed. She'd go in and out several times a day and scrub her body in the snow - she really loves doing that. I think it's a doggy version of a bath. I'd give her a bath more often but without running water, it's really quite difficult and the creek water is very cold. She generally gets one in the summer though, when the water is a little warmer and I can make her fetch a stick from the creek. She really does love to fetch and it really must be that stick. At any rate, two or three plunges and she's thoroughly rinsed. But that was way last summer. Last winter, along with her gleeful scrubbing in the new snow, which left behind a brown spot, she apparently left behind far more hair than I was aware. I knew she was shedding, I even went out and combed her a time or two, but she really hates being combed and seldom holds still for it, so I knew about that hair, but really, someone could weave a living room rug from all the hair out there. What did she do, molt?

For years, my husband wanted a stack of firewood here in front of the house, convenient for splitting and stuffing in the stove only steps from the door. And since we generally cut a tree at a time that idea was fine by me. So for years, long about now, or a little later when the ground is dryer, I'd rake up all the chips of wood and bark left behind by that chore. This year, what with LOTS of cut wood, there was no way I was going to have all that wood in front of the house so room was made in the long neglected woodshed. Well, tired of my spring ritual of raking up wood chips and bark in front of the house, I figured what better place for that mess than in front of the woodshed where, for the most part, it can stay. Deep heavy sigh here, I still have to rake the front yard. I wonder if hair rakes up any easier than bark.

So yeah, spring, for me, is the ugliest time of year. The snow is no longer white as all its accumulated dust is now on the surface. Nothing is green yet. You can't walk anywhere without getting your shoes full of snow or slipping and sliding all over the place. I did manage to make it down to the boats and made sure all the plugs were in, so when the river comes up they'll float. There's certainly no driving a snowmachine down there. Well actually, that's not quite true. If we REALLY had to, we could drive down there, but that would be driving through mud on both ends and having to turn the machine around by hand on that end - not fun.

My walk was not a stroll in the park. It was very slow and diligent, every step had to be taken with care. I even took my snowshoes, just in case. You see, there's this one part where, when it fills with spring snow-melt runoff, the icy water is generally around three feet deep. This is the place I had brought my snowshoes for. I knew the trail would still be there, but that didn't mean that the water under that trail wasn't deep. As it turns out, no water yet. Back to the walk. Since the trail goes through the woods, it's still about a foot or so deep in most places, but it was soft. I was lucky, most of the time the trail held me up, but there were plenty of times when it didn't and the foot doesn't always go straight down. It's not so bad when the foot slips forward - you gain a few inches. It's a little irritating when the foot slips backward - those two or three inches make a difference. It's awkward as hell when the foot slips out - I mean, how much have you had to drink? The absolute worst is when the foot slips in, under you, it's all you can do to not end up in a heap, there's just no way you can get your other foot over there where it needs to be to keep you off the ground. But that's not the only frustrations of walking this time of year. There's the deceptively solid trail that suddenly decides not to be so solid, only after you've trusted your body and soul to its strength - then you go down that foot or so rather abruptly, and you may or may not encounter one of the slippery problems enumerated above. This always happens right after you've lifted one foot to put it in front of the other, so once again, you're left staggering. You really should try paying attention to each and every step for a quarter mile, though I don't recommend you do it in snow your first time. It can so easily develop into a cussing issue if I was a cussing kind of person. For those of you trying it along your nice safe sidewalks, I'll give you the first dozen steps or so before something (very small) distracts you and you don't think about the next step or two. I totally understand. It's really very boring. It's not unlike walking heel to toe along a line that's not at all straight, but at least you have a task to hold your concentration there.

Ah, but that's enough of my rant about spring. Summer will come soon enough and the trees will start shedding their pollen, and then I'll be miserable for a healthy half of the summer. If I didn't love my job I'd hate summer too.

A Sample of my Day

Today, October 1, 2010

A few days ago, the water finally went down far enough that my boat was sitting in the mud. The nights had been freezing - not really hard but still freezing, and I didn't want my boat to freeze down in the mud, so after two long hours of come-along-ing I finally got my boat up on rollers, out of the mud and on it's way up the bank. Those were two very long hours involving ratcheting on the come-along a few clicks and then going down the bank to the boat and moving it with a pry-bar, hoping that it moved forward an inch or two. Then it was up the bank to the come-along and a few more ratchets and back down again. Up and down, up and down, up and down. When I got back to the house, I was amazed I had spent only two hours down there.

Today, after three days of drizzle and rain, I went back down to the dock not only to check on the boat but to bring back gas. I'll talk about that task in a bit. One thing at a time.

Well, what with all the rain, the water had come up a few inches. Not that it was touching the boat, but still, why not. I decided to bring the boat up a few inches. Six clicks on the come-along and the boat scooted forward an inch or so. Ooh, so easy. So I decided I would bring the boat all the way up to flat ground. Click, click, click, it slid right up. Then I ran out of cable, so I loosened it up to get a new grip on the anchor rope or hopefully on the boat itself. Easy up - easy down. Just as I was almost ready to unhook the come-along to move it, the boat slid back down the bank to the bottom. No danger, no damage, just frustration. *Sigh* Click, click, click, back up the bank, a little farther this time. This time, when I ran out of cable, I took the loose anchor rope and tied it around the tree the come-along was attached to. Now even if the boat slipped, it couldn't go very far. V e r y c a r e f u l l y I loosened the come-along. Yeah, it slipped but the rope held and I got my re-hook on the boat itself. After that, click, click, click, the boat came right on up, until it tipped down to sit flat. I recovered all my rollers from being embedded in the mud - a successful task almost completed. All that's left is to move it out of the way of the trail the snowmachine will need to use.

That done, I looked up and saw the sky threatening to clear off, meaning a possible freeze again tonight. All the boats here have their plugs out so they don't collect water - all except one. My son's boat somehow during it's lifetime has had it's drain plug smashed closed and even though a plug still fits in the hole no water comes or goes there any more. So, with a threatening freeze, I decided to bail that boat out. Then it was on to my original task which was to haul gas back to the house.

Last June our 4-wheeler had a flat tire. The poor thing is ancient and the tires have leaked for years now. Getting them fixed was inconvenient to say the least. We just kept a can of Fix-a-flat around. This time, in filling the tire, the stem simply twisted off - instant flat. After some deliberation and some procrastinating, my husband came up with a way to fix it with a bolt and some silicone, then he drilled a tiny hole in the rubber and filled the tire with the rest of the Fix-a-flat like you'd fill a basketball. Worked great except that there wasn't enough Fix-a-flat left to actually fill the tire. Now 4-wheeler tires are supposed to be kinda soft anyway, but not that soft. Ah well, it worked. Day before yesterday I decided it was time to bring the propanes up to the house. If the rain was going to turn into snow, the 4-wheeler would be useless and the task impossible until enough snow fell to make using the snowmachine possible, and by then I hoped to have the boat up, which would make using the snowmachine . . . well, not impossible, but not easy.

I noticed that the tire was really low, the cold air was eating at the air volume and it was likely the patch was leaking ever so little. So when the propanes were all up here, I decided to park the 4-wheeler. Hence my bringing the gas up by hand, ten gallons at a time using a little kiddy sled. It's work, but exercise is good. I can always hope it will burn off a little of my extra weight. It hasn't happened yet, but I can always hope. So, for the next few days, I'll walk down to the boats and get a couple cans of gas and haul them back to the house. That's six trips for one barrel and maybe a couple more trips for what's left of the diesel. Who knows, maybe by then I'll have snow on the ground to make the sled actually slide.