Sunday, December 21, 2008

Seven Things about Me

I've been tagged by Cedar at Adirondack View to come up with seven "weird or random" things about me, so here goes:

1. I've watched ever single Academy Awards show since they were first televised in the 1950s. Never, ever missed one.

2. I have three grandchildren and the first and second one are 24 years apart.

3. I wanted to be a singer but I was too homely and too shy. That was before Barbra Striesand. If I had been born after her I might have actually tried it. I could sing pretty well, but not nearly as well as Barbra.

4. I hate Jazz. I don't just hate it, I despise it. I can't watch the weather Channel's "Weather on the Eights" because they insist on playing Jazz. I could never listen to NPR all day long, because there is altogether too much Jazz. When they play Jazz as the "On Hold" music, I have to hang up, no matter how important the call.

5. I've wanted to live on an island ever since I was a little kid, and so far I've lived on two.

6. My left arm is almost a full hand length longer than my right arm.

7. I am half Italian and half Finnish. I love being both, though they couldn't be farther apart in looks, temperament, religion and geography.

So I've fulfilled my part here. I'll be tagging some others and when I do, I'll post them here.
(That was fun! I had no idea what I would come up with when I started.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Many moons--and now this

Yesterday we woke and opened the curtains just in time to see the December full moon slowly sinking behind the low trees on the west side of the bay. The tilt of the earth in winter gives us a view of the setting moon that we don’t have any other time of the year. In summer it rises behind the cabin, above the tall trees, stays for a brief glimpse, and then eases out of view while it’s still high in the sky.

It’s rare in winter to have a clear morning sky, so I think I can safely say that until yesterday I’ve never seen the setting moon over these waters.

Which is why, even though no number registered on the thermometer—it read zero—I threw my jacket on over my nightgown (the nightgown that goes to my kneesies), jammed my bare feet into my Crocs, grabbed my camera, and raced out onto the deck in order to catch the last of that moon sinking behind the trees. Just so you could see it along with me.

That was yesterday. Today the temps went up to 36 degrees and everything began to melt. Which was fine with me—love the fluffy white stuff, but that gray, soupy junk not so much—but then we heard that by tomorrow the digits were dipping to singles again. That meant that the ton of snow on our roof would likely compact and freeze into two tons of ice.

So out came the greatest invention known to Northern Man—or Woman. The snow rake. The snow rake has no moving parts, no fancy screen, no chips, no pixels, no memory, no earthly way to program it—but all by itself, it does the best job anyone has ever seen of pulling tons of heavy snow off of snow-clad roofs.

Well, wait—it doesn’t do it all by itself. It takes some manual labor to get it to do its thing. Sometimes a whole LOT of manual labor. But the point is, it does it without balking, without stalling, without coaxing or coercing. It’s simply a slightly curved metal rectangle attached to a v-e-r-y long pole. You position that rectangle at the top of the roof and drag it down until the snow falls off the edge and onto the ground. That’s it.

When the snow from the roof falls to the ground, it’s where it should be. But when it falls onto the deck, it’s only the first step in the snow removal process. That’s where I come in.

Step number 2 requires that someone take that heavy mound of snow and somehow shove it off the edge of the deck and onto the aforesaid ground. Because Northern Man is busy with the roof rake, Northern Woman (me) must take up the snow shovel and figure out a way to get the now cement-like mound of snow off of the deck without killing her knees or breaking her back.

I’m here to tell you, it can be done. Here’s how: A little at a time. I grab a little at the edge and push. Grab a little at the edge again and push. I do this until I get to where the mound gains height and then I have to rethink this thing. I chop a chunk, grab a little and push. Then I repeat until the mound is gone.

All the while I’m working, I hear that damned snow rake scraping across the roof on the other side. The snow feels and sounds like an avalanche hitting the deck, and I think to myself that this whole process might be absolutely fascinating if I wasn’t the one who had to go over there and start shoving again.

NEWS FLASH: We heard tonight that there’s been a change in the weather. The predicted arctic blast is taking its time getting here. High temps will be 33 degrees tomorrow. That means most of that snow on the roof would probably have melted on its own by the time the REAL cold got here.

Oh, that Mother Nature. She's a piece of work, isn't she?

Monday, December 8, 2008

What a difference a day makes

Yesterday morning I took this picture of the ice forming across our bay. The temps have been in the single digits for several days now, so I guess I knew I was looking at the last of the open water.

This morning we woke up to a totally covered bay.

I'm not ready for this! It's way too early for the open water to disappear. Winter is still two weeks away. I'm hoping a huge north wind will come along and shove the ice toward shore again, but the odds are that the ice cover will be there until spring.

Every year soon after the bay freezes over we watch the deer gingerly work their way out there. How they know it's frozen enough for them to walk on, I can't even fathom. But we've never seen them fall through.

They're like little kids exploring this new territory--they wander aimlessly around, checking it out, and then when they've had enough fun, they amble back to the trees. There is no food out there, so it's not as if they have to go there. There is no protection out there, so it's a bit of a gamble for them. But, like little kids, they throw caution to the winds and just wanna have fun.
I love that about them.

Yesterday, we watched this little squirrel wander into the trap to eat the bait on the spring-loaded lever that slams the doors shut when and if he sets it off. This little bugger ate it all and then calmly wandered out again. If the doors had slammed shut on him, my husband would have put the cage in the trunk and then would have driven the little guy to a lovely squirrel resort area far enough away from habitation that he won't make a pest of himself. He would be joining a vast immigrant population that have been transported over the years in this same cage by this same human. We don't harm animals here, but neither do we want to open our doors to them.

We used to buy bushels of corn to feed the deer before we realized how easily disease spread through their population when they congregated too closely or fed from the same trough. Now we throw out a few apple peelings for them and let them dig through the compost pile for leavings, but they know we're not a reliable source of food. We need to keep it that way, even though there's a real chance that some of them won't make it through the winter.

I've long ago given up trying to figure out the hows and whys of Mother Nature. Can't live with her, can't live without her. . .

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ice and Snow

When I started this website I hadn't planned on it being so "photocentric" (Is that a word?). But the more I take pictures, and the more I look for the right light, the right angles, the right moment, the more I realize I'm totally hooked. I can't go anywhere without my camera anymore and, while I don't necessarily take award-winning pictures, I'm almost always pleasantly struck by what comes out of that camera.

I complain almost non-stop anymore about winter, but when I look at the pictures I take (or "Photo-Ops", as I like to call them) I have to admit that there's something really special about how winter looks around here. Even the little things can be pretty spectacular:

A most remarkable web!

An icy chandelier

This is what I saw when I woke up this morning.

And this is what it looked like in daylight.

The wind came out of the north-northwest and plastered this window with ice, even though this window is sheltered under the deck roof, while the window to the east of it is much more exposed. That window was almost clear of ice. Then, just around the corner from the easterly window, there is a small window that is COMPLETELY covered in ice. I have to wonder how it was that the icy wind didn't catch all three windows equally, though I probably won't ponder the why of it for too long. But it does seem counter to the laws of nature, even considering the easterly positioning of the clear window. (Not to belabor this, but the ice-covered window around the corner is even more easterly, and totally hidden from the north-northwest winds.)

Of course, much of what happens in winter seems counter to the laws of nature. Especially MY laws of nature.

Even on the dimmest, darkest days of winter there is beauty to be found. The sun is pathetic in winter--a mere shell of its former, summer self. More days than not, it hides behind a hazy veil. But when it does come out in all its frigid glory, it's as if we've been given a gift: