Archive for April, 2011

Fair Weather

Monday, April 25th, 2011

There is still some snow scattered around from the last storm we had several days ago, but mostly things are greening up nicely now. Today I was outside in the afternoon with tennis shoes and no jacket. I’ll know it’s spring when I can dispense with the tennis shoes.

Alice’s last day of spring semester classes was last Friday. We’re into finals week now. She works so hard this time of the year that she comes home shaky tired. Soon, though, she’ll be able to have some more flexibility with her time and maybe even spend some time in the gardens.

My winter friends, the Chickadees, are starting to become scarce. During this time of year their song changes, and they spend less time at the feeders. I heard my summer friends yesterday, and saw them for the first time today. There were 6 tree swallows flying for joy over my head and singing their song that sounds like a bubbling brook. I broke out in a grin in spite of myself when I had my first visual of them. I then remembered I’d opened up their nest boxes last fall, but hadn’t disinfected them yet. So I grabbed the squirt bottle with a mild Clorox solution, and gave each nest box a bath. This hopefully kills the parasite eggs that can hatch and infect and sicken the young birds in the nest.

I also got out to the blueberry patch and moved 3 more plants. I’ve been trying for years to get them all moved to the rows we made for them some years ago. If I could get one more good day, I think I could get them all moved, and then I can mow that area of the lawn again. When I first planted these, I made a square of them, which was a huge mistake, because I couldn’t keep them weeded. Now they are in rows and are much easier to care for. Alice and I didn’t get enough last year to last us the whole winter, so we brought some frozen ones at the grocery store. Gag! They were round and blue, but didn’t taste much like blueberries to us.

Grand Canyon October 2010 Story

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

After working on this story for going on 6 months, it is finally in shape to share with the world. Thanks and a hat tip to the premiere editing of Alice Soldan!

http://tedsoldan.com/gc2010/gc2010.html

Back From Down State

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

I grabbed the Michigan Flyer bus at the Baraga stop at 12:40 am this past Sunday morning. Why they leave at that awful hour has never been explained to me, but that is the system. I was the first passenger on this run, and found a seat, pulled my hat over my eyes, an fell asleep. I dozed on and off until we arrived in Escanaba around 4:00 am. There I changed to the eastern UP bus, which eventually took me all the way to Lansing, arriving at 3:00 pm Sunday afternoon. The Lansing stop is nicely set up. All the city buses converge there, so for $1.25 I can grab a ride on the comfortable but well used bus that takes me to within a few miles of my parent’s home, where they pick me up.

We had a nice visit, spending most of Monday driving up to Mount Pleasant for several hours at the casino and some nice meals. I headed back Tuesday afternoon, and arrived back in Baraga about 7:30 am.

I ride the bus because it saves me money. Our second vehicle is a large pickup that only gets about 15 MPG. At $4/gallon fuel prices, the 1,000 mile round trip would cost far more than the $160 round trip fare. I think that even if the ticket cost as much or more than the fuel, I’d still do it though. It feels right to me to support mass transit in Michigan. This system is subsidized by the state, so the few bucks I pump into it when I ride instead of drive does that much more to make it a paying proposition that doesn’t need so much state help. I also always enjoy the characters I meet on the bus. And many of these people would simply not be able to travel if there were not a relatively cheap bus system.

Hallelujah

Friday, April 15th, 2011

It has been a bit of a struggle, but it appears I have finally managed to move my domains over to my new host. I know it because when I ask the tech support folks for help, I actually get some help. People answer the phones at this place. They respond to support tickets. When they have an unresolved issue pending, they email to make sure everything is going well. Geez. I think I’m grateful for such awful service for so many years, because when it finally turns itself around, it really seems nice. May it last.

Today is Friday, and I pulled all my taps on Monday. I have all this year’s syrup bottled, and got 12 gallons and one quart. This is the best year I’ve ever had, and I worked my butt off on it. I’ve slowly been cleaning things and putting them away for next year. There is a lot left to do, but I’m allowing myself to enjoy the lull somewhat.

boiling.jpgThis picture was taken when I was near the end of the boiling phase of the maple syrup project. I thought it was neat because the rising sun was shining through the steam coming off the evaporator pan. On the left of the foreground is the plastic barrel I use for bulk storage of the sap I collect. The bucket on top of the barrel us sitting upside down right now. It has a floor flange attached with a 1″ pipe nipple threaded onto it. When I’m gathering, I put this contraption upright on the top of the barrel with the nipple protruding through the open bung. That way I can quickly empty my gathering buckets when I come in with sap.

franco.jpgFranco comes out to the operation with me each day equipped with a stick. We have worn several sticks out this year. I keep a bow saw inside the building, and we frequently walk out to a brush pile and fashion a new stick after the current one gets lost up in a tree, or just wears out. Franco seems to harbor no mushy attachments to his sticks. He’ll watch me creating a new one with his current stick in his mouth, and as soon as I have it ready and make as though to throw it, he simply lets his jaw drop and the stick falls out. He’ll eagerly chase the new one and the old one just lays where he dropped it.

hiding.jpgSometimes I’ll be busy with something and kind of forget Franco is out there with me. I’ll look outside and feel he is out there, but don’t see him. He blends in very well with the dead leaves. When I finally spot him I see he is watching me and wondering in his doggy brain how any such creature gets by is life whose senses are so terrible. I’ll often be unable to find him out there even after looking for a while, so I’ll call him, and he often pops up a short distance away from me.