Loving Late Summer

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Could the weather be more fine than it is here in Vermont these past few days? I left the house early this morning at under 50 degrees. The temperature rose to about 70 by afternoon. Cool, sunny, a light breeze. Lovely, that’s what it is.

I didn’t do any house staining yesterday. It was just too dang nice. It was a perfect day to stain the house but I went birding and to the dump. I cut all the Purple Loosestrife growing in the ditch and at the edge of the field. I read a book.

Today I planned to stain, despite the temptation to laze. I got suited up, pulled out the ladder, even cut a couple of low branches growing too close to the house. Then I grabbed the paint can and the easy hefting made me remember that I am almost out of stain. So much for that. I could have gotten more stain today, but I plan to go right by the paint store tomorrow, so it can wait a day.

Shore birds are migrating. I saw sandpipers at the lake this morning, pecking along the shore. I passed a flock of geese in a field. I guess they are on the move as well. The orchard where we like to pick apples is picking peaches now. We may need to grab a few of those. Peach jam? Peach ice cream? Can’t go wrong there.

School starts this week. I am back to work full time. Summer, as far as the easy schedule, is coming to a close for all of us. But we have some solid days of summer yet. We will get in some swimming, and some paddle boarding. And some outdoor tasks. I scheduled a chimney sweep appointment. The firewood is stacked. Getting ready for winter, I guess.

My son is not ready for school. I mean, he is ready, in a physical sense, but that kid hates it when summer ends. I can’t blame him there. The Monarch Caterpillars are chewing on milkweed now but soon they will flutter their way south as butterflies. Summer isn’t really over, but it is time to start heading forward to new things. Off we go.

 

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Water this Summer

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High water on the Winooski River

I was planning to continue working on staining the house siding today. That wasn’t going to happen. I got up early enough. It was not raining, but it was going to rain. I didn’t want wet stain to get rained on. I would have had to stain it again. So I held off. Good thing. The rain came down.

It came down in sheets. Not for long, mind you, but in that short time we got a lot of rain, tossed around by strong winds. The forecast called for rain throughout the day and we got a few more bursts like that. Staining will have to wait.

I was away for a good chunk of June. My son and I were in New Hampshire last week. My wife was home and reported heavy rain, enough to flood our road, which I have never seen. Three inches of water fell in as many hours. That was mid-week.

My son and I came home on Saturday. As we headed west to Vermont it started to rain. It was a hard rain, so hard we slowed to a crawl it was so difficult to see. Once the rain let up a bit we kept going, slow but steady. We passed route 25A and I considered heading across that way, but decided to try 25C, farther north. But shortly after we turned onto that road we encountered a ROAD CLOSED sign. Maybe we should have taken 25A after all, I thought.

But at 25A we found a couple of rescue vehicles blocking the road. They were not there when we had passed the first time. I asked the man there if the road was blocked due to flooding. “I don’t think you’ll float,” he said, looking at our van, before adding that several other roads were closed. That was good information. Hopping onto the wifi at the store down the road (no cell service to be had), we chose a long route around. It took about three extra hours to get home that day.

I did get started on staining the house this week. We had a few days of sun. Yesterday I had to stop early. A thunderstorm moved in. I’ll get it done over time. I have some summer left. Water is high now. The ground is saturated. With more heavy rain like this, we might get more flooding. I hope we don’t get too much.

 

Oh, there it is

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Months ago we lost the remote control for the television. Who doesn’t do that, who owns a television, right? It falls between the couch cushions. It gets left on the table. It gets stashed in a drawer. It happens. Usually, however, it shows up at some point.

But ours never showed up. We each took turns looking. Those couch cushions got lifted up too many times. The couch got moved so we could look beneath it. The drawer, where we so tidily and responsibly kept the remote, was turned upside down more than once. We looked and looked until we exhausted places to look. It just was nowhere to be found.

I held out for months, then did some research into getting a replacement. I mean, your old television you could get by without a remote. You got up and changed the channel or the volume and you could at least feel that you were not being lazy. But this remote had so many features that trying to adjust some things was a challenge, at the least. Enter a Netflix password without that remote? I guess we skip the movie.

So finally I broke down and ordered a new remote. It was easy to find. There were multiple options on Amazon and elsewhere. When it arrived I slid in some batteries, pointed it at the television and boom! Success. Our easy life was back.

And we lived with that new remote for months. It worked great. No complaints. It was now what we had, even if it looked different than the old one. The old one was forgotten, slipping into the past, as things do. Then Easter came.

My wife pulled the Easter baskets from up-up stairs, as we call the semi-finished third floor of the house. She sorted through the various Easter decorations. She pulled the fake grass from one of those baskets and “No way!” there was the remote. How it got into one of the Easter baskets, fully covered in that fake grass crap, we still cannot figure, but we would not have found it. There is just no way we would have looked there.

So now we have two television remotes. We can choose the one we want. How First World is that? The Easter baskets are again tucked away. In films, those who make them often now hide what they call “Easter eggs:” small jokes or references that can spotted in the background. We had our own Easter egg this year. And it came before Easter, as if risen from the grave. Fitting, no?

Poor Thing

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Ah, the end of the holidays, Always a bit of a letdown. Always a bit sad. The lights come down. The decorations get boxed. The colorful paper gets recycled. And the tree gets tossed out onto the lawn.

Usually we cut our own tree. The tradition, several years old now, has been to cut a tree from a nearby tree farm the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We have found a tree at more than one local tree farm and it has always been a memorable experience. A couple of years ago, for example, it was warm enough that my son wore shorts. To cut a Christmas tree. No one-horse open sleigh hauling the tree out of the woods for us. Memorable.

This year we went away right after Thanksgiving. To Florida of all places. Because we were spending several days in the Sunshine State we would be spending fewer days in front of the Christmas tree at home. My wife insisted that this meant we had fewer days to celebrate. So we got a tree before Thanksgiving. The tree farms were not ready for us that early, but they had them at the hardware store. We all hopped in the van and picked one out together. We did not need to bring a saw. The tree came from a local tree farm. We stuffed it into the back of the van and drove it home. Memorable.

Today the tree lies, still in its stand, on the frozen lawn. Now, typically it would find a home in the brush pile over in the strip of woods to the north of the house. And it will find a home there. Eventually. Needles were falling off it so readily, however, that my wife carried it as carefully as she could to the porch before giving it a heave. More needles fell off when it hit the frozen lawn. We have never had a tree shed needles like that. We filled a paper grocery bag with those needles. Dry summer I guess.

I know I should move the poor thing. There isn’t much dignity in bringing so much light and joy to a household and then lying naked in the cold, waiting for some decent soul to give you a purpose again, say, maybe, as a home for mice or chickadees. I will get to it. Honestly, I just don’t think of it. I go out to look at the moon and I think “I really need to haul that puppy off to the brush pile.” But it is cold and I need some gloves and then I go inside to drink tea and I forget about it again. Not very grateful, I know.

We have a long weekend coming up. Maybe I will get to it then. Unless I forget. Again. Maybe I just need to make a point to go out and look at the moon more often. That would do it. Win win as they say. Win win.

Still Some Color Here

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We have had some wind lately, and some welcome rain. Most deciduous trees are bare. Our yard was covered in leaves the other day. My wife took advantage of the wind and raked them up into the air so they would get carried off. There is a wall of leaves now at the edge of the field. The lawn is clear.

We have had snow a few times. Nothing much in the valley, although some tracks have been laid on high elevation slopes already. And we have been getting rain for days, on and off. Several days ago I laid the hose on the hill to dry so I can roll it up and store it for the winter. It has only gotten wetter. We haven’t cut the grass in weeks, but it is still green.

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A few trees, like the Japanese Maple next to the house, are still bright. That tree is brilliant. It isn’t native but I can see why it was planted. It’s a beaut.  And there are places where red and orange and yellow leaves are spread out in bright layers. The foliage that draws leaf peepers may have dwindled but there is plenty of color lingering in the corners.

When the sun has managed to find its way out of the clouds this week, it has highlighted the snow on the mountains, or the trunks of trees now visible, or the leaves piled at the edge of the woods. Slowly this will fade to gray, but fall is still here.

Messy Eater

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My daughter romped about in the woods the other day. She got her boots muddy. She left them on the porch overnight. She left them there to dry. She also left them there to avoid cleaning off the mud.

In the morning they looked like this. I just recently hung the bird feeders. I filled a couple of them with sunflower seeds. Someone else did not want to clean up their mess. A squirrel? A chickadee? A mouse? I’m guessing a chickadee was flying back and forth from the feeder to the trellis over these boots. It ate the centers and left the hulls.

I cleaned up after the messy eater. I left the boots for my daughter. I am glad the chickadee wears no boots. I am glad my daughter has some skill with a napkin.

Word Challenge

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For Christmas a couple of years ago I got a set of Scrabble tiles with magnets on the back (thanks Bro!). At the time we did not have a refrigerator with a magnetic face. Ours was the one that came with our house when we bought it–it had wood face to match the cabinets. When we had to replace the refrigerator we had magnet capability. So up went the letters.

We keep shifting them around, spelling new words, or sometimes arranging them in ways that make “words” if you know what I mean (Thwand?). Lately I have been trying my hand at my own challenge.

First, know that there is only one tile for each letter–26 tiles for 26 letters. The challenge is to use all the letters in words with none left over. It can be any number of words and the words have to be common usage words. It is not a difficult challenge to understand, mind you, but accomplishing it has proved a struggle.

The photo above is a pretty good attempt; only two letters are left over. That Q, with its typical U pairing, isn’t making it easy. I was pretty proud of Blintz as it uses three consonants in a row. That is a win.

If you can do this better, let me know. I want to know if it is possible. And if so, what words. I’ll keep trying, of course. Those letters aren’t going anywhere for a while.