Sunday, March 22, 2020

East Pole Journal March 22, 2020 And the beat goes on

Forest mayhem: Leaning against the stump, top is farthest branches visible.
     Some excitement over the past few days. Friday night the snow on the north side of the roof slid off, rattling the house like a small earthquake would. I left way too much snow up there over the winter but then it got warm and I was a little shy of going onto the roof in case it slid under me. From that high on the north side you can't see ground until all the way to Denali it seems. You can almost step off the south side. On the south side there's been some sliding and I have shoveled what I could reach from atop the berm earlier shovelings had left, but still a considerable amount of snow slowly moving down slope. Glad I put up the bear board over the bed window because sure enough a big slab of snow fell against it.
THE PICTURES BELOW: Left: slabs of snow on the ground after the south roof slid.
Right: Snow from roof piled against the south side. Just the frame of the far window is visible because of snow against window's bear board.
In the world of chickadees
Something was going on out there Saturday morning. They use a small stand of spruce trees just a few feet from the house for shelter, roosting and pecking open their sunflower seeds. That morning about half a dozen of them were flying wildly around in the shelter of the branches. It looked like a madhouse in there. I never did figure out what was going on; I thought maybe mating behavior or some kind of small predator was chasing them, but I never saw one.
Mostly it's firewood, firewood, firewood
Snow pile after north roof slide.
I have about half a cord under the house now and more than that down and ready to split so it's going along. Of course all of this wood is for next winter and I am running a little short of wood for this year because I had to leave in a hurry last year and didn't get all in that I wanted. This past December I took down a spruce killed by beetles and dead, but even so it had too much moisture still in it to burn well. A couple of years ago my friend Joe May sent me a gauge for testing wood moisture. In December this new spruce tested at 19.3 percent moisture. Today I checked and it measured 16.9. The wood now decidedly burns better even though that's still considered a high moisture content, so I can use it to supplement what's left of last year's birch and stretch out my time here. That will allow me to get enough wood in to keep me warm next winter while I cut wood for the following year. This is how my life turned out. I'm not complaining.
South side, note snow against far window
It's been a lot of cutting and splitting and hauling up the hill and some days tiring. But as the pile grows it already energizes and makes me keep going back. I hauled the first load I've been able to move with the snowmachine today so the hauling may go a lot quicker in the near future. I only have about 10 feet of the lower trunk to cut into sections and I have most of the rest of the big stuff split at least into two pieces. They are18 to 20 inches in diameter and I can't split them even with my 18-pound maul. I use the chain saw and cut them part way lengthwise and then I can usually split them the rest of the way.
The plague
Friday I ventured out for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic came up. I stuffed  a bunch of disinfectant Wet Wipes in my kit. Life is different out there from when I left. I had very little interaction with people except at the supermarket and the bank. I noticed people shying away from each other, people wearing rubber gloves, no masks but I did see a little old lady with her scarf tied tightly round her chin, mouth and nose. My favorite avoidance technique came as I departed the bank. A woman all dressed up, nice, going out clothing, makeup, hair done. When she came to the door a little ahead of me she lifted her knee and tapped the button for the automatic door opener. So out of character. She saw me looking and said, "honey, I ain't touchin' nutthin'." I laughed and passed through, then I hit the button for the second door with my knee to hold it for her. After we both passed outside I thanked her for the dance.
Heaviest snow year I can remember and more in the forecast. When will it end? Actually I am glad to see it. As long as there's sufficient snow I can still function here. Temperature hit 41 today, first time above 40; it was 80 in the sun on the deck this afternoon, first for that also, but 15 this morning and supposed to be cold the next few nights at least. All to the good.
"… meanwhile life outside goes on all around you…"— Bob Dylan

The East Pole Journal

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Memorable quotations

The best way to know you are having an adventure is when you wish you were home talking about it." — a mechanic on the Alaska State Ferry System.

"You can't promote principled anti-corruption without pissing off corrupt people." — George Kent

"If only the British had held on to the airports, the whole thing might have gone differently for us." — Mick Jagger

"You can do anything as long as you don't scare the horses." — a mother's favorite saying recalled by a friend

A poem is an egg with a horse inside” — anonymous fourth grader

“My children will likely turn my picture to the wall but what the hell, you only get old once." — Joe May

“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 ignorance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

"It was like the aftermath of an orgasm with the wrong partner." – David Lagercrants “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

Why worry about dying, you aren't going to live to regret it.

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. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

Normal is how somebody else thinks you should act.

"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

I realized today how many of my stories start out "years ago." What's next? Once upon a time?"

“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

He's not doing things he can't do."

"… 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

Owners of a Noah's Ark replica file a lawsuit over rain damage

In Southcentral Alaska earthquake, damage originated in the ground, engineers say

Alabama governor candidate caught in lesbian sprem donation scandal

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