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.


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.