Friday, October 29, 2010

I am on my way to the Peaks of Otter to meet my friends Ken and Sandy. We will drive back along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Roanoke, enjoying the spectacular views. They will be staying for the weekend and I am excited to show them my hollow.
I certainly spent enough time cleaning up the house. I washed all the windows and doors and scrubbed the floors in the bathroom and the kitchen, along with vacuuming the entire house. It hasn’t been that clean since it was built.
I got a tax notice recently that said that the hollow was still assessed at the same price, but that the house had declined in value a few thousand dollars. Since I am not planning to leave for at least five years, it really doesn’t matter.
Two days ago a bear tried to get in the cabin and tore out the screen to the storm door. It was partially my fault since I was leaving the regular door open to ventilate the cabin better since I still have many books up there. Now I have closed the door and there should be no more problems.
Next week will mark my three year anniversary from colon cancer. I am doing very well, as my last tests showed, and I will really celebrate my fifth anniversary.
The work on the chapbook is moving along and I like Marina’s artwork. I think one of her sketches will make a nice cover. I still have no blurbs from Herb, Gyorgyi and Lou, so I might have to push them a bit.
My teaching is going well, but I did catch two students cheating and I am going to reduce their grades by ten points.
On my last hike up to the orchard I saw a heal-all and a lyre-leaved sage, the latter totally unexpected.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Maddie performed very well in Lynchburg and I was able to help Cathy and her out by driving them home after the competition. I took some pictures of Maddie and sent them to Cathy today. The thing that struck me most was the Gretna band, which had only seven musicians and very little talent. I felt bad for them but I guess if they want to perform, let them perform.
My performance last night was excellent and “Black Coffee” actually had the diners listening and led to applause from all of them. I also got dinner out of the deal (I wonder if I have to report that on my income tax).
Another fine morning hike and I cleared a little more in the orchard with the trimmer. The window cleaning job is almost done, so I feel good about that.
I thought my mouse problem was over but this morning I found two mice in the traps so I guess I may still have some under the house. I hope that the black snake under there is very hungry.
The solar is working very well, and I haven’t had to use the generator for quite a while. On a sunny day I am getting close to 5 kw in and only using a little over 2. I may be able to keep the refrigerator on until December or even longer. The batteries were at 1215, which is not bad, though I will have to fully charge and equalize them at some point.
Most of the wildflowers are gone but on the road up to the solar panels there are still thin leaved coneflowers blooming and asters and goldenrods.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another week of teaching is done and I am more than ready for a long break. Unfortunately I don’t get that break until Thanksgiving. That means I teach 12 weeks straight, have a week off, and then 2 more weeks of teaching. Obviously the last two weeks fly by, but I wish we had a break in the middle of the fall semester like the spring semester.
Another wonderful hike in the colorful leaves. We aren’t far from the peak, and it is a great time for a walk. I noticed how the leaves have gathered in the smaller hemlocks, and they look like Christmas ornaments. The wind will scatter them soon enough. There are plenty of shaggy manes around and still a few things flowering.
My camper top sealing job worked pretty well but I had one leak and now I have sealed that up. Let’s see what the next rain brings. The new screws that I drilled in the front of the camper top are not holding that well, but they are better than nothing.
I have almost finished cleaning all the windows, and they look much better. However, I am glad I have a day job. The windows are double-paned, and I think some of the dirt is on the inner part of the double pane.
I am performing tonight (the sixth week in a row) and I feel pretty good about it.
Tomorrow I head for Lynchburg to see Maddie perform in the marching band competition there.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another pretty good performance at Gillies, especially “Black Coffee,” where both of us soloed very well.
I decided that I would clean the windows before Ken and Sandy visit so I started that last night and did a lot more today. I found that the two sills that face the east needed to be stained because they were cracking so I did them and one more. I am about half done with the entire job and it is nice to have clean windows.
After working on the windows, I hiked out to the orchard though my knee was a little tender. While there I watered the new grass and it is coming in very nicely. The leaves are changing but they are not near peak so I hope they will be in good shape when Ken and Sandy come at the end of the month. Still some asters flowering.
My school work is finished so tomorrow will be an easy morning. I may play golf before I go to my lesson with Justin Craig. I played this afternoon and on the altered course, shot a 48 for ten holes, and debated trying to play the back 8. I am pretty sure I could have broken 90, but I wanted to watch the Jets play and I did, the Jets winning an exciting game against Denver.
Not much going on at but I am not worried at all. I am really enjoying my independence and I am glad I can spend some extra time walking in the evening with Rob. I think it helps him to talk with me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A concern has come up and it is my own fault. I put a screen up all summer in the entrance way to the crawl space to keep the humidity down and a few days ago I noticed that I have visitors, several mice. I picked up some traps, some new ones with a different design, but by the morning they hadn’t caught anything. I do have the three young mice trapped in a vertical roll of aluminum flashing, but I couldn’t catch them to let them out. I hope that having the door closed will end the problem but I called Mark Vaughn, the fellow who built the house, and he sent over one of his workers two days ago to seal the crawl space so no mice will get in the house.
Cameron inspected the crawl space and said everything was well sealed but he sprayed some of the foam insulation in a couple of questionable spots. He also put out some bait and just as he was finishing he spotted the best trap I could have, a pretty large black snake. I am glad for the snake’s presence and after it finishes its hunting I will try to catch it and put it back outside. So far none of the mice have gotten into the house and I have seen none in the traps.
Today I did some work up in the cabin and some around the house before heading off for a hike to the orchard. I just beat the rain back but it is so bracing to hike now with the cooler weather and the leaves starting to change.
I will be performing tonight again at Gillies and I think this is my fifth week in a row. That may be a record. Justin and I are working on “Light My Fire” and that should be fun to perform even though I am a little nervous about playing the rather fast organ intro on my sax.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A productive day, first grading and reading and practicing saxophone. I then took a hike to the orchard. After that I reset the solar electric charger so it will get more direct sun and then I trimmed the trees near it so it will get even more sun. I used the tractor to bring up a load of dirt and I leveled off the new area I had dug out a few weeks ago. I also put some seed down and watered the entire area. Some new grass is coming up. I also used the tractor to level the road a bit although it didn’t do much on the section Ronnie rebuilt. It will get smoother in time.
Noah’s Bar Mitzvah yesterday was memorable and he handled it with poise and intelligence. The ceremony was touching and the luncheon afterwards was first rate. I am glad that both Noah and Rob have that behind them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nothing big to report. My walks up to the orchard continue almost every day and it is so lovely right now. Some of the leaves have fallen but the real color is still to come. The rain will help give us a first rate autumn, and the weather seems to be holding steady, sunny and not too warm.
The green house is producing more lettuce and spinach, but the new strawberries don’t seem to be growing too well. They seem to be doing nothing, but perhaps I’ll have to wait a while.
My droid has been replaced but I wasn’t able to transfer the contacts because the old phone wasn’t working right and I didn’t save my gmail user name and password. It is very frustrating, but partially my fault.
I am doing some summer planning and I think I am going to do two trips, one out to Vancouver Island (taking Amtrak to Whitefish, MT) and one where I drive up to Bar Harbor. I have looked into the ferry from Goose Bay up in Labrador but that would be a lot more driving, something I am trying to avoid. I love planning summer trips.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I was able to play an easy round of golf today and I shot very well. It is nice to be back after two weeks off. Tomorrow I may try to play from the longer tees.
I have finally finished up fixing the campertop on my truck. The last thing was to secure the front of it better to the bed of the truck and I drilled in two ¼ inch self tapping screws, one on either side. That should hold for at least a day or two. The big problem is my road and the Sisson road. The ruts beat the truck up and the campertop gets loose quickly. I will be so happy when I replace the truck in a couple of years and get a smaller campertop.
I walked up to the orchard and there was still a great lobelia flowering, plus all the goldenrods and asters. I sprayed the yellow jacket nest in the morning but there were still yellow jackets around.
I also took some pictures of the house, the greenhouse and the orchard and I will try to add them above.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My shoulder is even better and I may try hitting a few golf balls tomorrow.
I planted some more spinach in the greenhouse and fertilized the new strawberry plants.
I am still spending some time cleaning up and I got rid of more useless things today. I also lowered myself down a steep bank to get a few pieces of debris from when my dam washed out. Now it is perfectly clean down there.
I took a walk this morning out to the orchard and I found a nest of yellow jackets right on the perimeter of the old garden. Some creature appears to have dug up the nest and I will have to spray it early in the morning since I can’t mow the grass there. Yellow jackets can be real nasty and I don’t want them around.
The flowers are finishing up but white snakeroot is still flowering along with many asters and goldenrods. There are still a few wingstems left flowering.
My classes continue very well, and I think the poetry class is going a little better.