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.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Bomb

I was reminded yesterday of what has to be the funniest thing that happens around here. For years, a friend of ours would fly around a few days before Thanksgiving, dropping off frozen turkeys to many of us who might not have been able to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. I never knew who all he delivered to, but ever since we moved here, going somewhere before Thanksgiving was impossible for one reason or another.

Now, you may say, "What's so remarkable about a turkey delivery?" Other than the generosity of it all, that is. Well, as I said, he flew around dropping off frozen turkeys. Sorry about doing one of the biggest writerly faux pas by repeating myself, but this is significant. You see he didn't land to hand us the turkey, he dropped it out of the window as he flew over. I don't care how much snow is on the ground, a 25 pound turkey will punch right through it.

It was during these once yearly deliveries that our dog learned to search out these turkey bombs and from there she learned to watch the planes that buzzed us, waiting anxiously for whatever may come down so she could chase it and happily bring it back. She's never been able to manage a turkey bomb though, but she sure was instrumental in finding them. Bob would wrap each turkey in a large black garbage bag and tie a long red ribbon to it, but even with these obvious markers, after going through upwards of five feet of snow, there's not much left visible. More than once I've needed to strap on snowshoes and hike around looking for this illusive little hole in the snow.

Though he didn't call in advance, he did buzz over first, so we could get out in the yard to spot where the turkey landed. There would have been no finding it otherwise.

For those of you who don't know anything about snowshoes, walking in them is only part of the fun. Bringing a turkey up from under four to five feet of snow is like standing on the table and picking up a 25 pound something off the floor directly under your feet, knowing that if you got down on your hands and knees, standing again might be really very interesting if not impossible. Snowshoes will hold you up on that snow but your hands and knees won't. Do that and you're instantly too feet closer to the floor/ground and your feet are now up over your back. -> don't cheat, you can't back up so your knees are on the table. If you take your snowshoes off so you can kneel on them - well that's an option, but putting them back on in deep snow is another one of those interesting things about snowshoes.

Okay, now you've got your hands on this garbage bag with it's 25 pound weight, now you have to get yourself and your find back up on top of your snowshoes or back on your feet up there on the table. Just how flexible are you? Just how acrobatic are you? Now remember, you've just created a big hole in front of you getting that turkey up from the ground, so there's no such thing as stepping forward - do that and you stand a very good chance of doing a ballet on the toes of your snowshoes - probably only one of them - and if you're as good at ballet as I am, you'll join me face first in the snow. Fortunately, though I am nearly 200 pounds, I have always been very flexible - it helps.

The last couple years Bob hasn't been well enough to do all that flying so the turkeys were all delivered to some central location and phone calls went out to tell us all where to pick them up. As I've said before, going somewhere before Thanksgiving has almost always been impossible, and this year I don't even have a phone - it died. That's okay though; 25 pounds of turkey is a bit much for just the two of us. There's only so much you can do with all that meat before you get really tired of turkey.

Friday, November 19, 2010


As some of my Facebook friends already know, I made a miscalculation on how much gas we would need to get us through freeze-up. Normally, I bring home pretty much as much fuel as I can throughout the summer - ordering one or two barrels every time the barge comes to Riversong. This year we planned to go to Eagle River for much of the winter and I didn't want a bunch of fuel left here unattended; we are well off the river and out of sight, but why tempt fate if I didn't have to? When we went to Fairbanks to get my book published, we came back to our diesel fuel having gone all milky, and diesel, as far as I know, doesn't go bad in a few months. I'm still using that fuel in lamps and such.

Where I wanted only enough to get us through until we left, thinking we'd order more sometime during the winter, my husband had different thoughts. He wants enough here to also get us through break-up next spring - a commendable thought, but he could have said something. You see, we discovered that it's cheaper to have our fuel flown in in the winter than it is to get it off the barge. It's tons easier to manage too. Like everything else done in the winter, load the sled with eight or ten gas cans and away to the house we go. In the summer it's pump the gas out of the boat into another barrel and then tip that barrel on its side and roll it to somewhere off the immediate bank; standing it up again is a two-man job, especially for us old folks. Then it can be hauled to the house about four to six cans at a time provided the four-wheeler doesn't have any flat tires (our latest obstacle).

Now granted, we leave some gas down by the boats because of the boats, and sometimes we leave all of it there and only bring it up to the house as needed, but it still needs to be moved around multiple times in the summer. If we had enough barrels, I'd buy all our fuel in the winter. I'm going to be doing the math for that this year. I'd much rather get all our fuel in here in one fell shot and be done with worrying about it.

So, as it stands, we're down to less than a barrel of diesel, which is plenty, and less than a five gallon can of gas, which is the biggest problem. The miscalculation came about because of our newest toy - the internet. Where before, one tank of gas in our little generator was enough to fuel our entertainment devices and the battery charger, now, with the addition of a modem and a router to our power drain, the little generator barely breaks even with a little to spare for the charger with a tank and a half or even two tanks, depending on how late my husband stays up. He loves to play WoW and it seems the best connection is well after midnight. Me, I'm solar powered, and I run out of energy shortly after the sun goes down most nights. I last longer if I take a nap during the day.

The last couple of days, it has been hovering around zero Fahrenheit, and since our diesel generator is kinda old, it doesn't have a glow-plug. For those of you who don't know, a glow-plug heats up the cylinder making the explosion of the diesel more efficient and thus the motor starts easier. Once was the time we had a blower heater to heat the monster, but the igniter on that thing went belly-up. Getting a new heater is on the list (you should see my list. Some things have been on my list for years.) Now we are reduced to using a small propane heater. It's very small, and though it works, it barely competes with the cold temperatures.

So, since we're so short on fuel, our computers and the internet goes off for the bulk of the afternoon. What do we do with ourselves? you ask. I get that question a lot with no thought of the fuel it takes to keep us entertained. Lately we've managed to get mostly caught up on the Smallville episodes, now we just need season nine to be up to date. Yesterday, we just started watching Dark Angel. Do any of you remember that one? And when we wade through that one, maybe I'll get Don to listen to my Harry Potter books again, I have all of them. Eh, we'll see. I invested hundreds of dollars up in Fairbanks Barns & Nobel book store on audio books and we haven't listened to half of them. Maybe it'll be Dune. Any votes. Well, time to turn things off. Talk to you all later.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Going for a Walk

Today, I walked down to the boats for the first time since it snowed the first couple inches. I suppose the snow is about a foot or so deep now but I managed to chisel my husband out of the house to pack trails a few days ago, so I had a packed trail to walk on. I needed to go down and get the last of the gas out of the big boat's tanks - yeah, we're almost out.

Walking is my time for thinking, and since today was blog day, that's what I was thinking about. Where did my thoughts go? Winter of course. I love winter as any of you who have read my previous posts surely have guessed. Winter is quiet. Winter is clean and white, though by no means sterile.

Along the way I saw mouse tracks, I saw where a squirrel had crossed the trail definitely more than once as he jumped down from one tree, ran across the trail and up another tree, and then back, maybe three or four times. And I saw moose tracks.

Though life has become easier for me, life for them likely has not. The squirrel screwed up and put his stash in a tree he didn't live in, or maybe it was his intention, but did he forget that the trail is there? He couldn't have; it is where it has always been ever since we've moved here.

Maybe the mouse's life has become easier though. He no longer has to worry so much about aerial predators though Gizmo still dives after where she thinks they might be.

The moose, though, is different from them all. No food stores. No cozy hidy-hole. No comforting, if cold, buffer from the outside world. Moose need to keep moving, to keep eating. I thought to compare them to the buffalo who are also designed by nature to handle deep snow. In contrast though, where the buffalo was made to shove through the snow with powerful shoulders, the moose was designed with long legs, maybe some shoving still gets done but mostly they are designed to 'part the way' or step over it.

Life is really hard for moose babies. They are born small when compared to their mothers. Really short from chest to butt and yet oddly long from shoulder to ground. This thought reminded me of a Shetland pony colt born to the pony my dad got me for Christmas when I was a kid. It was such a tiny thing; I simply had to measure it. Amazingly enough that little guy was exactly two foot square - from chest to butt and from shoulder to ground - two feet each way. I will never forget that. A baby moose isn't much bigger really. Maybe a few inches longer in the body, and maybe twice that in length. They grow fast during that first summer, but come winter, they must be able to keep up with momma. And momma? Well momma doesn't always take the easiest route just because she has a little one around.

When the snow gets deep, moose trails can be found most anywhere. They are quite stubborn creatures, taking little thought as to where they are going or the best way to get there. Line of sight will do. This way. That way. This bush or that. Across the river, fine - away they go, frozen, not frozen, it doesn't seem to matter. When the snow gets really deep, chest deep on an adult moose, they will start to hang to snowmachine trails - they aren't entirely stupid - and late in winter, they will contest their rights to the trail if pushed too hard.

This winter, I'll be missing much of that. I like the wildlife. Sometimes I see an otter playing in the snow as he travels from wherever to wherever. Occasionally I see a coyote, but Gizmo doesn't allow them to get close, plus I think they avoid the place because of her, and perhaps our, scents and sounds.

Ravens are the funniest of my winter guests. Once was the time one particular raven would come and play with our dog, but Gizmo doesn't play well, so he doesn't come by so much anymore. Haha - that's a funny story. Remind me to tell you about it in my next post.

See ya then.

Ack - I just thought of another one. Remind me to tell you about the otter that decided to stay under the house for a few days.