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Archive for July, 2011

It’s a lazy Sunday here in the woods (so lazy I didn’t post until today, Monday).   It was late morning when I met up with the deer family and their fawn on my way to the compost heap out back.   Even the Notorious Mr. W. waited until close to noon before hammering at the logs.  There’s a tangible weight to the silence this morning.  But I digress.

I’m always on the look out for tools and any apparatus that will allow me to do what needs to be done here at the old homestead rather than hire someone to do it for me.   Take for instance the gutters – which are far out of reach for me – even on a ladder.    Some advised me to bite the bullet and pay the $40+ an hour to have someone clean them for me.  Be gone, I said, and took to the internet.  Again, I will remind you to be concise when googling a product…trust me, you’ll end up at sites that will surprise you if you don’t heed my advice.    Speaking of the internet – As you may remember, here in the woods, the internet moves about as quickly as the slugs that are always underfoot; but all of that is going to change on Friday.  DSL is coming!  DSL is coming!  Hopefully, this will mean that while a photo is uploading into my blog, I will no longer have the time to wash the dishes.  But again, I digress.

So, after finding the product I was looking for, I read all the valuable reviews by other consumers.  Most reviewers gave it a  four star rating, but several guys (an assumption, I grant you) said they had to duct tape the unit together for it to hold.  Ha, ha, ha; men and their duct tape.   By the end of the week my Weed Eater Gutter Cleaning Kit had arrived.  The man on the front of the box (click twice on the photo and it will enlarge) looked like he was having a swell time and an easy go at cleaning his gutter.  I didn’t hesitate.  I opened the box (receiving anything by mail here in the woods is similar to Christmas morning – except I’m buying my own gift) and laid all the parts out on the deck.  I started out behind the house, just in case something went awry.    Okay, this piece screws into that piece; that piece screws into this piece.  This is so easy.   Why would you need duct tape?  Next piece screws into…wait a minute, this piece doesn’t have threads.   Take everything apart…oh, that’s right, one of the reviews did say the instructions were sketchy.   Start over.  Done.  All the pieces are in place and I’m ready to tackle those gutters.

Goggles, baseball cap, sweatshirt hood is up…I know you’re thinking about how lovely I must look…  Time to hit the On switch and here we go…oh, there it goes over the side of the deck.  Boy, that blower is powerful.  Run downstairs, fetch the pieces.  Come back upstairs and try again…and again, but the attachment keeps flying off of the blower.  So I mix it up…this tube here; that tube there, but it didn’t work.  And then I realized the error of my way (see below).

I’m 5’2; the Weed Eater Gutter Cleaning Kit is 10 feet long.  Add a powerful blower to the mix and there are bound to be more than a few mishaps.  The trickiest part was holding the Weed Eater Gutter Cleaning Kit upright and turning the blower on at the same time.  It would  have been so easy if I had FOUR HANDS!  If I let go of the tube and used that hand to turn the blower on (the other hand busy holding the handle of the blower), I jettisoned all over the deck.  Huston, we have lift off.   Thinking, thinking…  Once I landed, I secured the hooked portion of the Weed Eater Gutter Cleaning Kit into the gutter before I turned it on.

Matted leaves, pine cones, dirt, and pieces of things I don’t even want to try to name, came flying out of the gutter.  My goggles and I were covered with muck and I hadn’t even traveled down the full line of the first gutter; just turned it on.  After the gutter over the deck was finished (I say finished because clean would be an assumption on my part since I can’t see into the gutter), I headed out to the front of the house; then to the gutter over the stairs and the one over the porch.   By the time I finished, I was exhausted from wrestling (overhead, I might add) with the Weed Eater Gutter Cleaning Kit.

The next day I went to see Dr. Bob, my chiropractor, who adjusted my neck, lower back and put my rib back in place.  And then I went to Lind’s to buy some anti-itch goop to ease the itch of the no see ’em bug bites I’m covered in.  I know what you’re thinking…oh, yes, I do.   Perhaps you’re right; perhaps I could have had someone clean the gutters for less money; certainly with less wear and tear on me.  But sometimes you  have to do a thing because it feels right.  And once it’s done, you feel good that you did it on your own.   I highly recommend it.   Just make sure you have a roll of duct tape on hand.

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Boy, when you’re down for a couple of weeks (see my sprained ankle post) the grass grows and grows and grows.  I’m not talkin’ backyard ankle-deep, I’m talkin’ “holy crap, I didn’t see that deer standing there” high.  I’m talkin’ the demise of one sturdy weed whacker (not me, the machine) and the groans of a brand new double string whacker as I hacked my through the property.  It seems the size of the property is growing exponentially the longer I’m here, but I’m back on top of things now.   And if I do as I’m told (highly unlikely) and stay off the highway, I might see the coming of winter once again.

The reason for the title of this post is that ever since I found that snake and the dead vole on my porch (which I’m told was probably a gift from a neighborhood cat (and why I don’t own a cat)), I seem to be coming across more expired critters.  And most of them didn’t reach their full potential.  Take for instance (no photograph) the birdling that had fallen from the nest, not quite fully feathered, or the complete skeleton (photo of head to the left) of a small cat that was lying in the high grass.  Naturally, my imagination wandered off to a cold winter’s day and that poor little creature trying to find its way through the snow.   So close, yet so far…

My latest run in with nature was with a robin that set up shop right below my deck.  She tucked her nest in the brace of one of the posts – right near the door leading to the laundry room.   I’m too old to have to deal with an angry robin – especially, as I told her, in my own home.  This is where the little squatter built her nest.  I’m not sure if she was recently separated from Mr. Robin and just needed a place to hang out for awhile because I never heard or saw any birdlings.  What I saw and heard was Miss Thing perched in the tree off the deck puffing herself up and screeching at me every time I went out on the deck to water the flowers.  I tried, really I did, to make her understand the concept of coexistence, but I failed at every turn.  Take this series of photos.   In the first photo (I’m pretty sure I just heard an “ah” and a few “ohs” from you) but don’t be fooled, she had just finished sharpening her beak on that tree.  The second photo, she’s puffin’ herself up and squawkin’ at me.The third photo is quite blurry because she jettisoned herself from the tree and dive bombed me.  Fortunately, the screen door was open so I escaped into the house unscathed.

On a brighter note, the quail family is back.  Dad was keeping watch while mom hunted for breakfast.   

And one of the many, many rabbits (seriously, they’re everywhere this year) searched for something to nibble on.  The photos aren’t quite as sharp because I had to take them from inside the house at long range.  I didn’t want to scare anyone away.

And last but not least, the bird that I have watched strip the greater part of a log in a matter of minutes – the notorious Mister W.  I’m pretty sure there’s a tattoo of an anchor under those feathers.

This morning, as I walked around from the side porch to the front drive, a bald eagle and eaglet swooped down in front of me; once again, low to the ground.   And the day ended with a bright orange humming bird bathing itself in the mist of the hose as I watered the garden.

Oh, while I’m here, remember how I mentioned I had yet to see mice or rats here in the woods.  Strike that.  Last week when I went into my tool shed to fetch my hoe, from the corner of my eye I saw something move very quickly, but not as quickly as I did.   See, think…already standing outside the shed.   A small gray mouse ran across the floor up the wall and with a final glance over his shoulder in my direction disappeared through a small hole into the wall.  I sprang into action.  Gloves – got ’em; goggles – never without ’em; steel wool – yep; duct tape – natch.  In a matter of minutes I had every minute crevice stuffed with steel wool and for good measure sealed with duct tape.    Now I’ve got two incidents that have me on high alert – the snake – oh  yeah, he’s still sneaking up on me in the form of sticks, a banana peel, my own shadow; and the mouse in the tool shed.   I try to picture the snake as Disney’s Sir Hiss and the mouse as Gus Gus from Cinderella, but every now and then the look in that crazy robin’s eyes pops up and I recall poor Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s The Birds.  But then I remember Tippi didn’t have a pink hard hat like the one good friend Jan sent me, and all is right in the world once again.

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mowin’ and hoein’; not to mention partaking in the plethora of festivals and holidays of late.  I’m going to take a chance here (hoping doing so won’t call in the rain) and tell you the weather has been spectacular.  Think the Beatles – Here Comes The Sun…it seems like years since it’s been here.  Bright sun, clean air, temp in the high 60’s – does it get any better than that?   No, I say.  And it was that kind of weather that graced us on the Fourth of July for the First Annual (but perhaps last) Bocce Ball Tournament and Potluck out on the property. If you’ve ever played, you know that a Bocce court is maintained in pristine condition.  Well, ha, ha, ha my Bocce brethren – not so here.  There were times when we couldn’t even see the white ball for the dandelion greens (or maybe it was due to those pesky eye floaters) and the ground here is anything but smooth.  That lob you’ve perfected; the one that stops on a dime – bring it on over, I say, and let’s see how that technique works out here in the drain field.   Paul can attest his famous Hendrickson Lob was far from successful, but DZ got a kick out of his technique. 

The guys put their heads together and discussed wind velocity, the effects of high and low tides in an effort to roll the winning ball.  In the end, I think they just aimed for the nearest car – at least they could see it.  Peggy ended up tossing the winning throw – her first, I might add.  That ball rolled and bounced and bounced some more until it kissed the white ball and decided to stay – not room for a hair between them.

As always, there was great food – sockeye salmon barbecued on cedar, black bean salad in tortilla cups, angel hair pasta nests with vegetables and sesame dressing, baked ham, potato salad, Dick’s famous fruit salad, local strawberries; brownies and ice cream – peanut butter and/or coconut.  And to top it all off, there was laughter – the most essential ingredient of all.

Next post I’ll tell you about the mad robin, the cat skeleton and how the rabbits have taken over.  (Apparently, it was a long, cold winter for them, too.)  Until then, let the sun shine, let the sun shine in…

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New York, New York!

Well, the day has finally arrived – 7/7/11 – and my favorite of all my children is getting on a jet plane and moving to the Big Apple.   I’m going to miss seeing that smiling mug show up every now and then in Coupeville, but I’m so proud of Nate’s fearlessness and sense of adventure.   I’m sure he knows that unlike the Island County Fair, there won’t be any log-rolling contests, chainsaw carving competitions or kid sized bucking bulls there in the big city.   Of course, it’s been decades since I walked through Central Park so I could be wrong…especially about the chainsa…never mind.

When I lived in New York, it was a time of Serpico, platforms, and Broadway.  I lived with hoofers and gypsies, worked at NBC Studios during the day and at night snuck into the latest Broadway shows my roommates were dancing in.   I trekked through Times Square (before it was Disneyfied); the Village, the Lower East Side, SoHo, up and down Riverside, hung out with my friend Mendez in Chinatown where we ate dim sum and then strolled over to Little Italy for canoli.  Babs and I brunched at the Plaza when we could scrape enough money together.    I survived my first winter of snow, the winter my friend David set himself on fire on the set of What’s My Line (while I was working at NBC).

I gave up cigarettes, took up yoga and fasting.  I know now you’re not supposed to break a fast with pitchers of Sangria.  I’m so glad I didn’t know it then.    The walk home from the Cantina wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.    I warded off laundromat flashers and subway hustlers  and in between discovered Tibetan mysticism and the art of astral traveling.   It was a time of youth and discovery.  And what I really discovered on the island of Manhattan was me.  That was 1973.  Thirty-six years later, different island, I’ve had the same gratifying discovery.   And that’s what I wish for my favorite of all my children.  That and an apartment with a sleeper couch – because I’ll be heading to the Big Apple for a visit.

 

 

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