Saturday, December 04, 2021

Brrrrrrr!

 Sunny morning, but boy is it cold! I'm showing 8.5F here at about 8 o'clock with the sun well up; and recorded an overnight low of 4.5F. That's cold enough to frost the feathers of a frog.

When I went through my emails this morning, I found a very nice article about a rescue that Eric Hansen did this fall. Here at Joe's Pond many of us know Eric quite well - some of us may not have met him in person, but we know him by reputation as a state biologist and expert on loons. Eric has helped us with our growing loon population over 20 or so years, and had had a hand in at least a few rescues, or attempted rescues, of injured or abandoned baby loons here. Not all have been successful, but when a loon does survive after being injured or otherwise rescued, it is a happy outcome. Such was this story in the latest Vermont Ecostudies newsletter: Loon rescue.

I have good news about the West Danville history book: It went to the bindery yesterday! That means we should have a book in hand in perhaps a couple of weeks. We are hoping to have it available Christmas week, and I will keep you posted about that. We won't be able to have a huge gathering as we had hoped originally, but we may plan to have a careful "launch and signing" at a convenient spot in Danville so local folks can get them; and they will be in various spots like Hastings Store and the Joe's Pond Craft Shop after that, or available through the Danville Historical Society. All the particulars will be posted here and on various websites as soon as we have the books in hand.

It doesn't seem possible that there are only three weeks until Christmas! I decided not to put up much for decorations this year, but I wanted to at least decorate my mantle. I had a simple plan in mind, and got out my boxes of decorations on Monday.  I began going through the boxes of decorations with the idea I would toss a lot of the old, worn out items; but of course not much got thrown out. I "rehabbed" a lot and most of it ended up on my mantle. I've done a little every day this week, and the result is not good. My simple plan turned out to be too many layers and way more than I'd bargained for. I've decided not to use one whole string of lights, and I'm tempted to take it all down and start over . . . but probably won't. I'll just live with it until after New Year's. It's always nice to get everything put away again. I can always rationalize that I used only a small fraction of what I had available. And it's really just one spot in the whole house . . . and it was fun doing it. So Merry Christmas, and move on.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Just When Everything is Going Smoothly . . . !

 Isn't it always the way?  Just when you think everything is going smoothly, something crops up to stumble over. That happened to me this past weekend. I struggle nearly every day with the details of living in a mostly computerized world, and in the past felt fortunate that I could depend on Fred for that stuff. He loved computers and all they could do for us, and for him, all the other digital perks available provided a wondrous world he appreciated deeply. He understood the  language. 

Me, not so much. I try, and I thought I had things pretty well under control. After all, it's been a year since he passed, so I should have experienced all the hiccups there might be - or so I thought. But it turns out there are always bumps along the road, and I've now spent a good part of yesterday and today trying to figure out another of those hiccups. 

That said, aside from wanting to tell customer service people - particularly women whose voices seem to be high-pitched and out of range for my ears - to please slow down when they are speaking to me, things went well. I know everyone is rushed; there are waits every time I have to call a business for assistance, and I can accept that - I put them on speaker and go about some other task until the music stops. But it's the rapid-fire speech patterns so many of the customer service people have that I find the most troubling. I have to ask them over, and that must be annoying for them. It sure is for me. 

It seems to me life was much simpler when a bill came in the mail, we wrote a check, and when the bank statement came (delivered by our friendly mail carrier), we could see the charges and the credits and compare them to our checkbook. With a little simple math, we balanced our checkbook. Does anyone do that anymore? Probably only a few of us older citizens even have a checkbook. I don't know how the younger generation keeps track of their finances, but I'm guessing it's all on their smart phones somehow. Or not.

My immediate problems are solved, I think, but I'm not convinced there won't be another unexpected glitch crop up because I didn't know about something Fred did automatically; although he without a doubt told me at the time, but being preoccupied with other things far more interesting to me, whatever he said didn't sink in. I understand computers are here to stay, not a fad, but I worry that one day I'll get completely lost in the maze of the digital world. 

If you are still with me in this long, fairly pointless entry, we are having light snow showers here today. It isn't building up much, but the overnight low was about 10 above, so there is no melting going on, and if the big pond isn't frozen over today, it won't be open much longer. It's very pretty with snow on the trees and completely covering the ground here - I'm thinking we have at least eight inches on the ground. I have taken out my Christmas decorations and plan to go through them in the next few days, deciding what to use and what to discard or just put back in storage. Christmas will be here before we know it!



Saturday, November 27, 2021

Winter Has Arrived!

 I think winter is finally here - in shovelsfull. We had snow or snow/rain mix most of yesterday and then last night the temperature dropped significantly. About 10:30 I looked out on my porch and saw that snow had collected on the screens on all sides and was sifting onto the porch. I hadn't paid much attention to the weather, but did realize that the wind was blowing - I just didn't know how much until I saw the porch (right). My first thought was that I wish I had some sort of panels to keep the snow off the new porch, but then realized that it is pretty much weather-proof - the furniture is covered and secure, rain and snow can beat in, but the wood is protected and the floor is practically indestructible. Still . . .

This morning, even before I looked out at the pond, I looked at the porch again. Most of the snow had blown off the screens, but there are 2-3 inches on everything. Not too bad considering I measured almost 10 inches of snow on the deck this morning.

Jamie came down early and plowed the driveway. We made provisions for him to be able to push the snow far onto the lawn in several directions to insure there will be enough space just in case this is a winter when we get more than the usual amount of snow. Even last year he was beginning to run out of space in places. We are both thinking that the snow from this storm will likely stay and it's best to be prepared. It's hard to move the snow when it is packed in around the driveway, and moving it far onto the lawn area should help. 

I did the porch in two sessions this morning. The snow is pretty heavy and with so much of it, I didn't want my back to give out before I got the whole thing finished. I cleared about half of the deck so I could get to my measuring tube that was completely full, but not over-filled and piled high as it is sometimes. After I'd taken all the measurements and sent my report, I went back and finished clearing the rest and the steps. I still have the walkway to do, but that is only a short distance to where Jamie had plowed and cleared the snow from my back door. He was going to come back to do the walk and deck, but I need the exercise and can certainly take care of it. I'll admit sometimes it is hard to get out there when it's below zero and blowing, but in a way it's a good challenge, and I kind of enjoy it - up to a point!

The snow seems to have nearly stopped now and I think the sky may clear later today. I doubt if there will be much melting going on - and even if there is, it will take time for all this snow to melt, and I'm pretty sure we'll have more snow added in the next few days. Seems to me a White Christmas is assured.

A few people have asked how my pond is doing these days. I haven't been out to it since last Saturday, but it has remained frozen all week and now is only defined by the darker snow. The photo on the left was taken on Tuesday morning; the one on the right, this morning.

It's very pretty everywhere. I am able to see bits of Joe's Pond through the trees now that the leaves are gone, but there are still large trees preventing a clear view. Once my neighbors, John and Liz Randall get here next spring, I'm hoping some of those big trees will be taken down. John talked about it when they visited this fall. In the meantime, I have some big ones that should probably be taken down, too - near the road and power lines below my house. I always worry that they will come down and take out the power. Mine are mostly very tall poplars and when they get really big, they usually blow down, so I'll probably have them taken care of before that happens. 

It is still snowing lightly but the wind has died down almost completely. Looks like it may be a fairly quiet day. If you are out and about, enjoy, but stay safe. Roads here could be a bit dicey, but I expect the plows have been out everywhere and main highways should be ok. Actually, most of the roads except in the higher elevations like through West Danville, Walden and Cabot are probably just fine. I'm always amused to leave here bundled up with winter boots, parka, and gloves, only to find the folks in Danville or Marshfield comfortably going about in regular shoes, light jackets and no gloves. Sometimes they look at me a bit suspiciously, like "where did you come from?" Obviously they don't get up our way much.





Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Wishes

 Thanksgiving Wishes

(Please click on the link above.)

Happy Thanksgiving, 2021. We are entering the holiday season with snow on the ground and a chill in the air! Last night wasn't as cold as Tuesday night was - I had a low of 12F overnight Tuesday!. I was surprised that there was no snow in Danville when I went to do some errands yesterday, while we were snow-covered here with two to three inches on the ground. Even though we had glorious sunshine all day yesterday, we still have snow on the ground and the thermometer is reluctant to move upward.

If you are traveling, be safe. Have a wonderful day! 


            Thanksgiving dinner delivered at Cousin Ora's house in Rhode Island!

 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Cold and Snowing and Thoughts of Christmas!

  So much for my assumption that we wouldn't be getting much snow until Friday. We may not get many inches, but we have enough on the ground so it's all white out there already. This morning my pond was very solidly frozen over but the ground was bare. The low overnight was about 21F. I took a picture at about 7 a.m., for no particular reason, and now, at 11, I took another one after a snow squall moved through. It's still only 24 degrees outside, and there is very little wind so far - a really good thing because even a small breeze will stir up quite a swirl of this light, dry snow. 

 I looked at the forecast but there isn't anything about snow here today. I guess we're just special. This is unusual, actually. The temperature is about right, but usually we do have quite a bit of snow by now. Not that I'm complaining - I have enjoyed a longer than usual fall.

I've been reading in the Caledonian Record about all the adjustments being made because of the increased cases of Covid-19. The St. Johnsbury Anthanaeum folks have rethought their 150th anniversary celebration that they had planned for Saturday, and instead of a lovely indoor party, they will celebrate outside. There are gatherings everywhere that are being either postponed or cancelled altogether, and people are bracing for colder weather that will likely bring on even more cases of Covid, colds and flu. We need to be extra careful, wear a mask, wash our hands frequently, and stay out of crowded places. I'm heard more an more people saying that they believe this will be our lifestyle for the foreseeable future, so we may as well stop grousing and just do what we must to keep ourselves and others safe.

Have you  heard there's a severe shortage of Christmas trees this year? Apparently growers sold more than usual last year and some sold younger, smaller trees to meet the demand and are now lacking inventory. Artificial trees are caught in the supply-chain frenzy and are not getting to merchants, so it's unlikely everyone who wants a tree this year will be able to find one. I don't think we'll have that problem here in Vermont - but it isn't impossible. Tree growers can no doubt get a good price for trees in the cities, so there may not be as many available locally. Maybe it would be a good idea to get your tree now and keep it in a pail of water, outside, until you are ready for it. You will probably have to deal with a block of ice when you do bring it in, but you can figure that out. At least you'll have a tree to decorate.

I won't have a tree this year - I usually only put one up when it's my turn to host the family Christmas Eve gathering. I do plan to go through my old, well-worn decorations, though and dispose of whatever cannot be rehabbed. I'll have plenty of time to paint and decorate some of the faded and worn baubles, and then they'll be ready to hang another year, when it's my turn to host. Last year we didn't get together for Christmas, and that was kind of sad - and it looks like it may be more of the same this year.  But each family makes their own Christmas, and that can be very special. Actually more like Christmases I remember growing up with. We had wonderful school plays and families gathered for those (I guess THAT won't happen in any schools this year!) but at home, Christmas was never a big deal except we exchanged gifts - often handmade - and had a special dinner. It wasn't until I worked and lived in St. Johnsbury that I was introduced to a more socially-oriented celebration that Christmas. Then, after I was married and had children, Christmas got really complicated.

We lived first in Danville and then in St. Johnsbury. There were traditions such as special church services, and holiday craft sales put on by every church in town that I never knew existed. I became part of all of that, eventually serving on the decorating committee at South Church, teaching Sunday school, understanding Lent, going to Christmas services and rearranging my life to adapt to both sets of grandparents so everyone was happy. We spent Christmas eve with my parents, Christmas morning we had our our own celebration, and we had Christmas dinner with the Dimicks. Each of the three events involved gifts and a tree. We were living in St. Johnsbury then and that made it easier in a lot of ways - at least we didn't have to travel far to Grandparents Dimick, but it was often hard to get the boys organized and ready to go when they preferred staying at home watching cartoons or Macy's parade. Sometimes getting to Cabot Plain on Christmas eve was a little scary - the roads were not always the best during the 50s and 60s. But we always made it. We often had cranky kids and frayed nerves by the end of all of it, but still there are lots of great memories. 

Obviously, I've bought into the hype of the holidays - the Christmas spirit is alive and well! I'll probably get out those boxes of decorations this weekend and get started. It should be a fun project! Goodness knows, I have the time.

By the way, if you haven't taken a few minutes to watch the slide show done by Kingdom Access TV for the Joe's Pond Association's 100th anniversary, you should do so. You will find it on home page of www.joespondvermont.com, or click here to see it now.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Clear and Cold

 We have had a little nasty weather today. This morning there was a little sunshine, but later there were snow flurries. It never warmed up much all day, and tonight is going to be clear and cold - like in the teens. The thermometer is now reading 24.1F, and slipping downward.

Last week when we had that pretty snow, Gretchen Farnsworth sent me some photos taken from her house at the north end of the pond. The water there is the first to freeze over - it's shallow except for in the channel, and protected from the wind so there is less movement than in the broad lake. I am sure it will be frozen again tomorrow morning. The top photo is looking NNE at the Channel Drive area, and the bottom picture is looking across the pond towards Island Drive, past the two islands, Toll's being the larger island and the smaller one is Pearl's Island. 

Right now we don't have any snow on the ground except a patch here and there in shaded spots. I don't think there is much in the forecast until possibly Friday, but the temperature is getting a little colder each day.

I managed to get outside on Sunday to finish a little yard work. Jamie came down on Saturday and got the lawn tractor ready for winter and brought the snow blower into the garage so it's ready if we need it. I put up a couple of bird feeders -- probably a bit early, but it always takes the birds a little time to find the feeders, and I got inspired when we had all that snow. While it may be early to get feeders out, it was nice to be able to set the metal pole I use in the summer for a plant and the hummingbird feeder. The ground is not frozen at all yet. Last year I didn't get a feeder out until sometime in December or maybe even January, and there was plenty of snow on the ground by then. I had only a small feeder attached to the window and later I put out a suet cage. I'm trying out a "squirrel proof" feeder this year, and it will next to impossible for squirrels to climb that skinny metal pole, and if they manage to jump to the feeder, they shouldn't be able to reach any of the seed. I'm also trying some thistle seeds this year. The birds were very selective and left a lot of the cracked corn and other stuff in the mix I bought last year, so this year I'm using black oil sunflower seeds and thistle. The sunflower seeds are treated with cayenne pepper that the birds cannot taste and is not harmful to them, but squirrels definitely don't like it. We'll see how that goes.

Today I spent a good share of the morning on "hold" waiting for help with an old computer account. Ironically, I was going through some files over the weekend and it crossed my mind that having a year behind me doing all the things Fred used to do, I should have no more surprises. But today I got an email with information about a website that was entirely foreign to me.  I tried on-line chatting twice - the first person I contacted seemed to be taking a coffee break between each question I asked, so it didn't take long to figure out we were getting no place. I ended that conversation and tried again a little later, but with similar results. So I decided to try a phone call. It took some time to get connected, and then the person spoke very rapidly with a heavy accent, and I had to ask him to repeat everything he said. I think he got exasperated because he finally suggested I call a different number. I was relieved to end that conversation, too.

His advice to call a different number was good, though, and after about half an hour waiting for a service rep (I learned long ago to just put the phone on speaker and have something else to work on while I wait), I got a very helpful young man that was able to trouble shoot and find what I needed. Another plus about that call: I was offered an option to not have music playing while I waited! How great is that? I wish more companies would do that. All of this took up most of the morning, but my problem was finally solved. Well actually, my "problem" turned out to not be a problem at all, and that was a big relief.

Son Bob stopped by after lunch, and it was good to catch up with him. He went skiing for the first time this season over the weekend, at Jay, I think. His energy inspired me to hike up the hill to Jamie and Marie's. I haven't done that for weeks - probably even months. Too hot, too cold, too wet - any excuse at all! But today I did it. Not without a couple of stops to un-kink my muscles (that hill is a bear!!!) but I made it up and back without  too much panting and groaning. The groaning will probably come tomorrow when I'll feel the full effects of those lazy muscles having been put to the test. I'm hoping to do a repeat tomorrow. If I'm not too sore - or it's not too cold. Or wet.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Here Again, Gone Again!

 All that beautiful snow we had is now gone! Everything warmed up during the night and this morning there were big bare spots around my house; shortly after lunch, it began to rain and now there isn't a trace of snow anywhere! That will change within a day or so, I'm sure, and right now it doesn't look great for Thanksgiving Day travelers.

I think it's time to put my bird feeders out for the winter. It will be a lot more comfortable getting them placed now than trying to do it later. One goes on my window near my chair - that's the one that the bear knocked down this spring. I may put it a bit higher on the window this year. I have another hanging one that I need to find an appropriate place for. A Place where the squirrels cannot jump to reach it. I have a supposedly "squirrel proof" feeder I just purchased. If it works and they actually are baffled by it, it will be a first! They are very clever.

When we lived at camp years ago, we were overrun with squirrels at our bird feeder. We got a couple of have-a-heart traps and I don't know how many trips I made transporting those creatures down to Woodward Road to release them in a wooded section away from any houses. I knew it was a futile attempt to control them, but back then I had no "search engine" to find other possible solutions. A neighbor recently borrowed one of those traps to try to capture a squirrel that has been troublesome. Last I heard, the squirrel was still active, but she did catch a bluejay! I've read that some of the birdseed on the market today is treated with a pepper solution that is supposedly harmless to birds (and they cannot taste it) but that squirrels don't like. Worth a try if all the bird seed is being stolen.

Unfortunately, many people I've talked with recently are frustrated about their Thanksgiving plans again this year. With more Covid outbreaks all around us, people are keeping gatherings small, or are celebrating by themselves. A few people told me they will be traveling or are having out-of-state guests, but they are insisting that everyone be immunized and get tested to be sure they are healthy. It's disheartening to have to still  take those precautions, but I'm afraid it's only going to get worse from holiday activity. A bit worrisome for older folks like me, and others who have health issues or cannot be vaccinated, but it may be the way things will be for a lot longer than we'd anticipated.

Speaking of older folks, sometimes I crack myself up for doing something ridiculous. One morning this week I switched my routine around so I showered and got dressed before I made my bed. When I was making the bed, I couldn't find my nightgown to tuck under the pillow. I remembered hanging it in the bathroom when I showered, but it wasn't there; I searched the bed and bedroom and there was no sign of it. Completely baffled, I went into the hallway to look in the bathroom again, and as I passed by a full length mirror, something caught my eye. My nightgown was attached in back of me! Somehow, apparently when I sat on the bed to put on my jeans, I got the nightgown tucked into the waist of my pants! Obviously, I'm sometimes not fully awake first thing in the morning. I had a good laugh at myself and went on with my day.

 I've worn things wrong side out or put my tee shirt on backwards a few times, too. I'm pretty sure everyone has done those absent-minded things from time to time - even if they aren't old timers. Shirts and blouses get buttoned wrong all the time. It's part of being busy and going by feel and habit rather than paying close attention. Anyway, that's my excuse. But I do try to remind myself to slow down and think before I act, especially now that I'm older, less agile and by myself. Dangerous things can happen in a split second, and that's how serious injuries and accidents happen. So,slow down, stay safe, and check yourself in a full-length mirror, front and back, before you go out of the house!!! It could save some embarrassment.


Brrrrrrr!

 Sunny morning, but boy is it cold! I'm showing 8.5F here at about 8 o'clock with the sun well up; and recorded an overnight low of ...