Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Eve 2015 - 2016

Angels' Light on New Year's Eve.
The day started with a bang. Rain blowing in my face as I opened the door under a deeply gray sky. I did a couple of chores outdoors in the rain, but the main job of splitting firewood was going to have to wait. One of the nice things about Bush life, you often can put things off and wait for better weather. It takes some patience.

Then the preciptiation turned to snow and the wind picked up from the southwest, unusual for this hillside where the wind is usually gentle and comes from the southeast. The snow and wind reached blizzard status for a while as I watched and let my thoughts wander.

The other night I had dinner with some friends who have lived this way and one asked me what I do all day. I didn't have a ready answer and mumbled something about firewood. It's difficult to explain
This is the Glassmasters suncatcher
version of the Michael L. Smith photo
that hangs in my window.
all the little putzing chores and repairs I have done – things I put off on weekends when there isn't much time. Today I thought of an example. I have a stained glass image of the angry bluebird. For years it has hung in the window over my desk but at an angle to the window that didn't allow direct sunlight to shine through. Every time I have noticed that angle it irritates me but I have never bothered to do more than turn the picture which swings right back to its original position. Yesterday as I looked at that bird for a minute it hit me that all I had to do was turn the hook it was hanging from to get it into proper position. Easy peasy, now it is oriented properly; all I need is some sunshine to get the full effect. And that's the kind of stuff I have been doing here for a month in addition to gathering firewood and general chores. Oh yeah, there was the great shrew hunt too.

The blizzard finally blew itself out after some pretty strong gusts. It looked like some trees might go down but I didn't hear or see any. There is that question again - yes trees make sounds when they fall whether anyone is around or not.

About then I noticed the angel's light. Not long after that the sky brightened but left the mountain shaded in clouds all day.

Time to head down the hill and split some wood. I did a couple of sleds full and hauled them one at a time up the hill. Unfortunately I couldn't take the wood directly to the pile because the snow on the roof had started to slide. Shortly after I came out in early December I had gone up on the roof and shoveled down the ridge to break that surface tension and cleared above the smoke stack so the snow would not take the pipe with it when it slid.

Each side of the roof is 392 square feet and covered by densely compacted snow at least two feet deep. That adds up to heavy. You don't want to be under the eaves when that lets go. So I had to dump the wood under the porch for the time being rather than take the chance of having a ton or two of snow land on me.

Back down at the chopping block I heard part of the roof slide, about half the uphill side, no help for access to the firewood piles as they are under the downhill eaves. I split a little more wood and hauled it up to the porch and quit to take a nap. Just as I was dozing off the whole downhill side slid. The house actually feels like it jumps a little when that lets go. Very strange feeling, and no fun when you live in earthquake country and don't expect the roof to give up its snow.

So after dozing a little more I went out and stacked the wood. I've barely scratched the surface and what I've already split is about half a cord.

For New Year's Eve dinner I had a New York strip steak, with a small can of peas. That's the first beef I have had since my medical emergency last spring, well, except for the rare 97 percent lean hamburger. So, all good.

That was probably the biggest meal I've had out here this month except for the rack of lamb at Christmas. I fought through the urge to take a nap because I had one more New Year's Eve plan.

In my putzing I came across two full moving boxes loaded with old receipts, cancelled checks (remember them?), tax returns and one badly conceived novel. That seemed perfect for what I had in mind and as a friend said later, it was a great way to send out the old in order to welcome the new.

I had set those aside for a New Year bonfire and about 10 p.m. headed down the hill to the open spot where I often burn stuff. With help from what little remained in an old can of Coleman fuel, I set myself quite a blaze for a while and as I watched, the Northern Lights came out overhead and stayed for maybe half an hour.  At one time three distinct bright green bands stretched from horizon to horizon. And while the moon was behind the mountain here, its light was hitting Denali and at 11 o'clock at night, dark, you could still see the mountain almost 200 miles away.

Very few recollections came to mind from the past year despite the tranquility of the moment. Except for the aforementioned medical event, it was a pretty uneventful year. It closed out with this wonderful month at the East Pole, so that's at least a positive ending as is the fact that there is more firewood under the house now than when I arrived Dec. 1.

But there is this: With Elon Musk in the world and his succes with Space-X completing a round trip into space, I feel very safe in saying, "yeah, baby, let's go for another orbit and ride this rock around the sun one more time."

Angels' Light


  1. Seems we were both burning our pasts on New Year's Eve. I cleaned out my desk at home and burned a bunch of old paystubs and other obsolete paperwork. No great (or un-great) American novel though. Wishing you a happy new year!

  2. On New Year's Eve we were burning the gas fireplace and looking out at green grass and flowers. Yes, no need to chop wood. Until this first week of January you lucky folks west of us had been keeping all the arctic air to yourselves. Thanks for sharing; we are dropping to the teens tomorrow and maybe will see a snowflake.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve