Monthly Archives: January 2015

My Big Bang Theory

There are lots of strange, new noises living in the woods and I do my best to identify them. Powers of deduction, observation usually serve me well and I figure them out. But, there has been one disturbing noise that gets the dogs barking furiously, sometimes shakes the house, and is very loud. It only occurs at night but not every night and not at the same time each night. Sometimes it even happens two or three times in one evening. Rachel and Riley were visiting and Rachel was really concerned about the loud bang that shook the house last Wednesday at about 11:30 PM. So I decided to make more of an effort at identifying what was going on.

A nice feature of not too much snow that has packed down to an icy slushy consistency is that footprints remain for days. My footprints in the yard reflect a number of dog walking trips because Mason is still leash-bound. footprintsyard I looked down at my footprints that were from a couple of days and thought of that cartoon from the Sunday papers where the child is asked to do something that is very straightforward and ends up taking the longest most circuitous route possible. It was when I looked down from the porch into the yard that I realized I had a chance to see if there were animals on a path that led them to walk into the wooden pillars that support the deck. Or, maybe they bumped into the front of the house. Having narrowed down the area where the noise was coming from I was optimistic.

When I got home the other day I noticed tracks in the driveway. turkeytracks Clearly the turkeys have been coming and going across the top of the driveway. Not only did I have the track evidence but then Wednesday afternoon the dogs alerted us to about 10 turkeys walking across the front yard. I decided to take a long hard look at where I thought the noise was coming from and this time I had evidence. deertracks You can barely see them but there was clear evidence of at least two deer walking right along the front of the house. It appeared to be one large deer and one much smaller one as I followed the tracks around the side of the house across the driveway into the woods.

Mystery solved? I think so. It’s difficult to express in words how loud and violent the banging is. Imagine slamming a wooden door as hard as you possibly can against something else that’s made of wood. I’m satisfied that it is deer walking into the deck supports if not the deck itself. I saw a deer recently walking down the stairs so I suspect crashing into the gate at the bottom of the steps isn’t beyond the realm of possibility either. It serves to remind us that we have invaded the territory of all animals that live here and that they do not adapt easily to our presence. I just hope the deer don’t hurt themselves but am glad there is evidence to support my theory.

There’s Cold and There’s Cold!

The big topic of conversation up here seems to be the weather which is not unusual for this time of year. What has changed, however, is the beginning of every conversation, “Are you keeping warm?” The temperatures dropped to ridiculous numbers — what is -18 supposed to “feel like” anyway? The temperatures have been in single digits and the feel like temp is just silly. Easy for me to say since I don’t have to go out if I don’t want to. Taking the dogs out in the yard has become a chore because it involves, boots, hat, gloves, and heavy jacket for a walk around the yard that lasts less than 2 minutes! The dogs aren’t foolish enough to stay out in the cold. Riley and Rachel are visiting and Mason (their dog) is still with me recuperating from her second knee surgery. They haven’t left the house since they got here a week ago! Just too cold to take a toddler out.

The good news, though, is it is sunny and beautiful, the snow is fluffy so the driveway has been usable, and there hasn’t been a lot of ice. While the cold is a force to be reckoned with, we are well prepared here in the mountains. We have the appropriate clothes, boots, cars, and plenty of firewood. My friends in Florida are not as well suited for the cold and have had a difficult time lately. When my friend, Larry, said it was 19 degrees in Destin last week, we agreed that their homes are not made for such temperatures for sure. I’ve been out to the store, the dump, the mail room, the bank, that kind of thing and have survived just fine. What a luxury to be able to use the driveway to unload groceries or load up trash and recycling. It sounds silly I know but it was something I did not have last year from November through March. I haven’t decided if the fires I have been making actually warm the house or just warm us because it is emotionally a lovely thing. It doesn’t matter except that I was running out of firewood so had to try and get another delivery while the driveway was usable. The Carraciallo brothers are expensive but at least answer the phone so they delivered another half cord two days ago. Jimmy and his helper (who I’m absolutely sure was high on something) stacked the wood and informed me that John (the other brother) would have to take care of me next year because Jimmy was now a chef for a drag racing team and was headed south! Crazy.

Today I went to the grocery store for important items — bitters and maraschino cherries to make cocktails tonight — and found out that the cold weather apparently gives people permission to wear pajamas to the store. I went into two stores and saw at least 5 people wearing pajama bottoms. Really? Is that the warmest thing you have? And, we all know that we are just going from the car or truck to the store, so what’s the deal? Rachel says cold weather makes people crazy!

I am determined to keep to my once a week blog and have so many things I could have blogged about but this seemed appropriate given that it’s the main topic of our news as well as local conversation. Feeling quite smug, of course, I do not hesitate to share with people up here that I’m headed to Florida at the end of the month and will likely spend all of February there. Time to go stoke the fire and look at the beautiful sunny snow covered yard but I’m not going out!

Reflections and Resolutions

After looking at my last post I realized that it’s been almost 2 months since I’ve blogged about life in the mountains. There is no reason, just lack of motivation, finding lots of excuses not to blog, deciding (for others) that it’s boring or at least not all that interesting, and feeling like the blog has no focus. Anyone who knows me well knows that I write in my head before anything goes down on paper or screen. I have written lots of blogs — at the very least What I Learned on My Trip Part II which never made it!

In my defense, it has been a busy fall into winter. Mason, Rachel’s dog, had her second knee surgery and stayed here to avoid all the stairs at the Brooklyn apartment. She is still here and will remain til the end of January. The happy outcome of this is that Rachel and Riley have been spending a good deal of time in the Poconos. I cannot describe to you no matter how I try what an absolute joy it is to be part of their lives and to watch Riley grow, learn, throw tantrums, and develop ideas of her own. There is little downtime with a 15-month-old, but that’s really no excuse. Trying new dishes, some healthy some not, has been fun and I love the process of cooking more than I enjoy the eating of the results. With Rachel and Dave spending time here I’ve had a chance to cook for others which is a lovely change.

Based on a few things that happened around the house, to pets, etc., I have formed my resolutions for 2015. Often I come up with resolutions that are unmeasurable — like learning to be comfortable in my own skin. (Yes, that was one — 2013 I think!), or better structuring my everyday life so that I do something productive every day, or being more flexible. Because there is no metric for these, I cannot tell you if they were met. This year I have decided to be more clinical about resolutions. Here goes (there are only two so bear with me):

1. Before I immediately call someone to help me solve problems around the house, I will sit for an hour and decide if it’s something I can handle myself. This evolved from two incidents. The first was the ash dump door that I pushed down the hole into the bowels of the house. Immediately I called the chimney sweep because now I had a hole in the back of the fireplace floor. Then, after he left me hanging for a couple of days, I realized it wasn’t a difficult fix and I could do it myself. First, I ordered a new door from a locally owned fireplace store; then I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of steel, put it over the hole, put a rock on top and was good to go. My new door arrived within 2 days and, in spite of the fact that it’s a 40-mile round trip to the stores, I solved the problem myself, put the new door in (left the rock just in case) and called the chimney sweep with a “never mind” message. The second thing that happened was Sydney again tore a nail (all dog owners will recognize as an emergency). So, off to the Emergency Vet Clinic in Newton, NJ, once again (don’t ask!) and, after a detour that took me to places I had never been at 11:00 at night, she was all fixed up, I was poorer by $200 and a bit of a mess after finding my way on rural roads in the middle of the night!! IMG_2277

I bought a Pet Emergency First Aid kit that contains styptic powder to stop bleeding and instructions on how to fix a broken or torn nail. It’s a first step that would have allowed me to go to my regular vet at a much more acceptable hour.

2. OK — last one — number two resolution is to blog at least once a week. I started this blog after a suggestion by my friend, Robin, who said it would be good therapy when I moved up here. It has been much much more than therapy — the process is fun, every time I do just about anything I think about how it would work as a blog, and the comments I get back are encouraging.

Happy New Year to all my friends and family. 2015 will be a good one!