"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lots of Nasty-ware

Despite having one of the best protection softwares available, my laptop has lots of nasty-ware on it, acccording to the guy working on it.  So, it is still in the shop.    I'm using this Pleistocene-era netbook that is acting as if it wants to go to the shop also.

In the meantime, a couple recent photos, if they will upload in a reasonable amount of time.

A couple new arrivals at Tern Lake.

Note the opportunistic feeders hanging around.

They wait while the swan loosens underwater vegetation with its feet, then snatch it up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You Don't Fool Me, Mother Nature

You plaster us with snow three weeks earlier than normal time for a first snow.

Then late in the afternoon, you melt it back to halfway up the mountain.

You clear the sky and let us marvel at the reflection in the melted snow on the back deck.

You try to distract us by reminding us how beautiful snow-covered mountains are at sunset.

You don't fool me, Mother Nature.   I know exactly what you're up to with those clear skies at night.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Time Out

Naughty computer's going to the shop today to get whipped until it starts behaving again.   I'll be back when it is.

In the meantime, I leave you with these:

Saturday, September 14, 2013

There Goes My Baby

I love this forklift.   It's almost as old as I am.

Flat tire, split rims, no brakes, tempermental choke and all.

I've spent hundreds of hours sitting on this piece of plywood and operating this machine.

No brakes was never a problem, but its touchy choke and carburetor are beyond my mechanical ability to conquer, and now my baby just takes up room in the car port.   So, a barter was in order.

It took this fellow's hands to speak to it.   Started right up for him.

 And his son drove it out of the car port on the way to its new home.   Time for me to get rid of stuff.

Onto the highway, dropping pieces as it went--the ring for the flat tire split rim, and then the tire itself.

There goes my baby,
rolling off, down the road,

It's close enough to visit, so my heart, while empty, isn't broken.

Lots of forklift memories today.   A pet magpie, injured after falling from its nest, loved the forklift.   It would come hopping across the yard whenever I started it.   The magpie, a badly-healed broken leg sticking out to the side, couldn't fly, but it could sure hop.   Somehow, it could get up on the steering wheel, where it would take naps.   Sure wish I had a photo of that.

Now, this was a long time ago.   At least 30 years!   We'd come across a car that had run off the road after the driver fell asleep.   We used the forklift to pull the front fender away from the wheel so they could be on their way.   Note the wrenches in my husband's hands and his dirty Levis.

Weeks later, we received this photo and a thank you note from the occupants.

Lots of changes since then.   My husband replaced the propane engine with a gasoline engine, and I removed what was left of the white paint.   We painted it yellow and black.

Hard at work on the forklift.

Ah, my beloved forklift.    But, boy, is it going to be easier to park the RV trailer in the car port!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nice Touches, Rough Gouges

I''m doing something differently this summer:   I'm walking my entire litter route again, following the highway department mower as it turns the roadside into a parkway.

Friday I was working in the area of Mile 55 where a contractor is replacing an old electric substation with a new, fully automatic switching station that can be operated from Chugach Electric's headquarters in Anchorage.   This will mean faster service restoration when power lines fail in this area.

The shorter, A-frame towers are new; the tall wooden poles have carried the transmission lines for many, many years.

As you can see, it's immediately adjacent to the Seward Highway.

I watched for a couple minutes as one of the workers used a Bobcat to do some dirt work.   And then I noticed something.

On top of those tall wooden poles, someone had placed two American flags.

On my return walk past the construction site, one of the workers hailed me by name.   We chatted for a couple minutes, about 75 feet apart and with vehicles speeding past.   For the life of me, I don't know who he is.   That's not unusual, given the fact that my facial recognition software is corrupted and I need cataract surgery.   Anyway, he said "they" had placed the flags on the poles.

What a nice touch.   It goes a long way towards excusing them for the mess they made when they walked a tracked machine down to the nearby pullout:

After seven years of cleaning up to fifty miles of highway litter, I find myself getting pretty possessive.    Here's hoping they fix it when they demob.

On the drive home, I stopped to pick up some newly-tossed litter and noticed the sun had managed to find a hole in the gloomy overcast that's been persistent for the last month or so.   Off in the distance, I saw something that portended jaw-dropping beauty if and when the sun manages to run the clouds off.

Autumn colors.   I love them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

House Work, Part Two

After Dave finished installing cedar shakes on one gable end of my house (see House Work, Part One), we took down the two decks of scaffolding and moved them to the front deck for Part Two of my project.  This was my job;  Dave left for other commitments.

I'd already started on part of this job, sanding all the old Behr Rawhide finish of the log siding.   It's a horrid task.   Sawdust and fine chips of finish fly everywhere, including in my eyes, nose, and ears.  I tried various ways of protecting myself, but all the dust marks, full face masks, bandana robber marks, etc., made my glasses fog up. 

This side of the house faces north and doesn't catch much weather, so the Rawhide was thick and difficult to remove.   I had to use 36 grit sanding disks, as opposed to the 50 and 60 grit I used on other walls.

Why did I have to do it?   Two reasons:   a)  the siding under the Rawhide had bleached almost white, and, b)  to match the rest of the house.   Of course, the old finish and its replacement were different tints.

Sitting on top of the eight foot stepladder.

This time I couldn't avoid reaching 22 feet up, unlike the rear gable where the cedar shakes made a nice improvement.   The scaffolding helped, especially after I put an eight foot stepladder on top of it.  The fun part (not!) was setting up and taking down the stepladder as I moved the scaffolding across the deck where the eaves were lower.   I managed to not drop the ladder through the windows as well as keeping me from falling off the scaffolding.

Finally, finally, the awful part was done.   The I brushed off the sawdust with a hand brush, cleaned up the sawdust all over the place, and finally, used a compressor to blast the logs and deck with air.

Sawdust all over.

Three coats of Behr Log House finish Clear No 15, and I was done with this project!  Well, after I cleaned the windows.   All four sides of the house have been sanded and refinished.   Now, to caulk all the seams.   Not looking forward to that either.

Check out the reflection in the windows.   That's where the mountain goats and bears are that I watch from the comfort of my living room.

And, now for the finished job:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Waiting for Juliet

This wasn't the last time I saw Juliet the Swan, afloat in a small patch of open water on a freezing night a couple years ago, illuminated by moonlight.   That night, Tern Lake froze over completely.

The last time I saw her was the morning after I took that photo.   Juliet, her flight muscles injured and atrophied after some lunkhead shot her with an arrow, was flightless.   Her mate Romeo stayed with her as long as he could.   He left with a large number of swans heading south, but came back repeatedly and circled, waiting for his earthbound love to rise from the water.

She tried, but her wing was too weak.

Neighbors were able to catch Juliet after a hearty sprint across the frozen lake and hold her until rescue personnel from the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward arrived.   The last time I saw Juliet, she was bundled up in a sack, calm and resigned.   She'd been caught by the rescue folks earlier that summer and the arrow removed.   We all hoped for the best.

When they returned her to Tern Lake, Romeo rushed to her side and the two remained at the lake  until that cold day in November when Romeo could no longer fight his instincts to migrate south.

Every spring and every fall since then, a solitary swan returns to the lake and lingers.   Other swans come and go, but the swan we know as Romeo waits and waits.

This is Romeo in May of this year. 

Last week, a solitary swan returned to the lake.

It's a little early for a migrating swan to stop over at Tern Lake, yet there he is, napping in a chilly rain while he waits for his Juliet to join him.   She won't.   She's in a sanctuary for injured swans in Washington state, but she's free to leave whenever she can fly.

In the meantime, those of us who care watch for Romeo every spring and fall.

"Romeo's back," we say.   Nothing else need be said.   To us that solitary swan is an affirmation of loyalty and devotion.

Romeo is back and he will stay until the lake starts to freeze, waiting for Juliet.