The chaps swagger

I strapped on our chainsaw chaps, which were still set for my waist, donned the helmet and got to work. I immediately felt like a tough guy. Tim gave me lots of tips and we made quick work of a large fallen branch on the lawn, and got three!! pieces of firewood.

I hope the tree survives. I believe it is a copper beech and it is a beauty. It holds its leaves until January and then they fall after they have turned a beautiful, golden copper color.

We used to hang the bird feeders on it but recently moved them closer to the house. It’s better than Netflix. Yesterday, a chipmunk stuffed its cheeks and only stopped when it couldn’t poke its head back into the feeder because it was too big. We’ve had cardinals, too many blue jays, goldfinch, who are almost fluorescent now, chickadees, nuthatches and tufted titmouse.

The blue birds picked the perfect box to build their nest. We won’t be here to follow their activity though and the hummingbirds and bees will be on their own. Who knows what mischief they will get into.

Hint of Spring

We were tempted into believing it was really Spring. The bees are out and about, the birds are returning, two bluebirds chose a house on the lawn.

I drove to Middlebury, Vermont to meet a friend from New Hampshire. Trees have buds but no blooms yet.

Many are shaped by the southerly winds.

And then, just like that, we got another 10 inches of snow and lots of fallen branches. Tonight, Tim coached me as I rebuilt the fire pit. Tomorrow, I’ll be wielding the chain saw. Vroom, vroom.

Dichotomies

I wrote a paper today for my french class about Stromae, a Belgian singer-songwriter, audiovisual creator and fashion designer. Here it is for you francophones.

I discussed the dichotomies of his songs: harrowing themes with music that makes one dance.

That is what today is like. Flowers in bloom inside and perhaps the last snow squalls of the season in the mountains.

Cascade lakes

WE drove to the pool in Lake Placid today and Tim exercised in it. He finally believes he is going to be OK. Last month, one doctor scared the bejeesus out of him and painted a future filled with chronic pain.

He slid down that hole. Now this month she reports he will be fine (as did his first spinal surgeon two months ago). He’s on cloud 9 and able to deal with pain because he no longer fears it will dominate him. He thinks he needed that message. I disagree.

But now we are positive! This Christmas/Easter cactus went from good to astounding within a few days.

So hopeful. It opened itself up to the world. I considered putting it outside near my beehive!

Out and about

We may have had the last snow of the season and I didn’t even have to shovel, while Tim continues to recover.

Our last or penultimate dusting

I’m finally getting more comfortable putting myself out there. I took a wonderful trip to DC to visit my daughter, my first domestic flight. I wore a real N95 the whole time and declined food so I could keep my mask on.

The Capitol from Homewood suites

I stayed in a hotel she built! That was fun.

Rode the metro.

And ate mostly outdoors in restaurants, and perhaps imbibed bit too much.

I bought this new wide angle and macro lens for my iPhone. I am hoping to get some good shots of the Milky Way during our next caretaking stint in Acadia National Park (with the wide angle, not the macro).

African violet leaf

We heard Itzhak Perlman play at the Flynn Theater stayed in a hotel in Burlington overlooking Lake Champlain and home.

And then we returned home.

Always the best place to be, or as the good witch told Dorothy “There’s no place like home”.

Bird brains

Very useful for winged creatures, not so much for government leaders

Here are my local critters putting them to good use.

One bird often sits at the feeder and shovels out seeds for its buddies.

This image occurred when my own bird brain pressed the wrong button on my camera. It looks like an interesting textile but was really…

So plenty of mammals have bird brains too. Here’s a local deer taking a selfie in my Wildlife camera. I have to get a third camera. I hid the first in the woods, never to be found by me again, and this second version needed the animals this close to get a picture.

Wildcamera

Feeling chuffed

Tim upped his game to get out of work. He heard there was a storm coming so went cross country skiing, had a freak accident and broke 3 vertebrae, fractured his skull and paralyzed one vocal cord. End result, he can’t snow blow or shout. Lucky me. In all seriousness, I am happy and lucky he is alive and up and about.

But enough of that. Another storm came through. As the snow lightened, I fired up the snow blower. I cleared the driveway, the mountain the snow plow created at the end of the driveway, and the path to the cabin. When I was as far as I could be from home, the drive train stopped working. At least I was finished but I fretted. I went to bed watching videos of snow blower repairs. I had to rebuild the drive train a few years ago after someone who won’t be mentioned replaced a shear pin with a bolt. But I forgot everything I had learned for that repair.

So after lunch, when the temperature rose to the low 20’s, I headed back to the cabin with tools and shear pins in a bag. It’s not easy doing small engine repair in the cold and I have the gloves to prove it.

Anyhow, when I finally got the cover off all looked well and I couldn’t find a shear pin. Then I started doubting my repair. Nothing in the Snapper manual described a shear pin as a cause for no power, they only mentioned belts, cables and discs. But then, while spinning the axle, I saw it, an empty hole on the shaft just begging for a shear pin. The repair was easier than putting the plate back over the gears with gloves and the wrong tools but I started her up and drove off into the sunshine.

When I got home, all Tim could say was that I looked a mess and had grease on my face. Reminds me of my granddaughter’s favorite book, The Paper Bag Princess. Needless to say, I did not call him a bum.

The birds are fed, the wood box is full and I finally could get back to knitting. I made two pairs of socks and a sweet earflap hat. Topped it off with a delicious one pot stroganoff in my instant pot. All is well.

Fun in the sun

Not to be daunted by frigid temperatures, people in northern climates make the best of the long, cold winter. Yesterday was the last day of Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake which had its grand finale with the annual parade. As always, my favorite group was The Lawn Chair Ladies and you can see why.

2022 Lawn Chair Ladies

Their average age is creeping up, along with me, and they have ditched the webbed aluminum chairs for the newer, lighter variety. Always a hoot. I wrote about it in 2014 here.

Gym bear

This guy greets us at the pool where we swim a few times a week. With a little more snow, he may hibernate.

Wondering just how strong the roof is

But the big news in the rural Adirondacks is we finally have decent internet, no thanks to the NY Broadband initiative, which can’t even seem to map out who does and does not have internet, despite our multiple letters and emails.

I named our new Starlink network, “ThanksElon”. It really is a game changer. Now the question is, how will we spend all that time we gain instead of having to wait for web pages or movies to buffer and load.

Hopefully we won’t waste it by simply surfing more. I have to improve my installation because options were limited when there was two feet of snow on the ground and roofs. Even so, it’s still at least triple the speed of our old setup.

It’s never the right time

Tim and I have been caretakers in every season and weather around the world. It’s a fabulous life. I have a chance to reflect on this today while I warm up and drink my tea. I just finished snowblowing the homestead after we received an additional 14” of snow. And I may have to do it again.

Tim had a minor procedure and was told, “no heavy lifting”.

Last year, while we were at Schoodic Institute, where our one major task was to hand shovel 20 doorways, he broke his wrist, again. And we got lots of snow….I shoveled.

Two years prior, he broke his wrist in winter…I snowblowed. He had also selected the elm trees he wanted cut down for a future project. After a quick chainsaw refresher lesson, we snowshoed into the woods.,,I chainsawed. We brought them home on a sled, where they dried until he was healed and could build our bed.

It’s becoming a blur to me. Something happened just before we ordered three cords of wood…I stacked. And something else before a hill of sand blocked the road on Deal Island…I shoveled. Maybe his timing is just right! We make the perfect team.

Tis the season

Our family winter gathering has come and gone; we tested, we laughed, we cried and, generally had a great time. We had planned a VRBO trip until the landlord tried to screw us. VRBO did nothing, but AMEX came in and saved the day. Amex refunded my first trip and through Air BNB we found a mansion to stay in with a heating system that sang and clanged us to sleep. Unlike our first rental, when a storm was predicted, the Air BNB landlord offered us another night for free! Enough said.

Storm King sculpture park

We spent a frigid day walking around the sculptures in Storm King, played Go Fish countless times and marveled at how funny 3-8 year old could be playing charades.

We returned home to a foot of snow that had to be cleared to pull into the driveway. Sub zero temperatures have settled in.

Always scary when the ice starts to creep inside.

But we have been able to ski out our door and the snow is beautiful.

Here’s to an almost normal holiday season.