Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

DON'T Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

I have cleared the driveway and walks every day this week. I thought I would escape shoveling/blowing snow today but no, the snowplow pushed a ridge of frozen snow/ice across the end of the driveway and the turnout area for the newspaper delivery guy. Another morning of shoveling snow. At least I've no want of exercise.

The temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s later today and as high as 50 tomorrow. That will be good weather for finally putting out some Christmas lights. For some reason I just haven't gotten around to it this year. Not many other people have either. There are few outside decorations this year. Perhaps it is the expense of energy. Electricity hasn't gone up as badly as gas and oil but you have to cut corners somewhere and it is easier on decorations than heating the house. The last delivery of fuel oil was at $3.40/gallon. That's more than regular gas which is bad enough at $3.35 around here. It seems like buying either involves two hoses these days, one to pour the fuel into your tank, the other to suck your money from your wallet.

The price of fuel has caused the collapse of local air service in the North Country. Big Sky Airline which was providing service is having their planes repossessed because they can't afford to make payments on them and buy fuel. Consequently after the new year there will be no air service North of the Syracuse - Albany line unless some other airline steps in quickly. Thank you Exxon/Mobil, Shell, etc. The administration just successfully fought off an attempt by congress to remove tax breaks from big oil companies who are making record profits so a big "thank you" is also due to the Bush administration for protecting those poor abused multi-billionaire oil producers from having to pay a fair tax on their profits. Beginning with the Reagan administration the free market capitalists have been telling us that wealth "trickles down". I'm still waiting and that second hose is still attached to my wallet but it is pumping out, not in.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Got Snow?

The Nor'Easter dumped 15½ inches of snow on us Sunday. We now have more snow than we had all last winter and it isn't even officially winter yet. According to the calendar winter arrives on Saturday which in addition to being the 1st day of winter is also called "midwinter". I learned that on the evening weather report. Actually I didn't believe it so I had to look it up. It didn't make sense to me that the first day of the season would be called "mid" but sure enough midwinter is the first day of winter. English is an odd language.

After blowing snow from the driveway and walks on Sunday I got to do it all over again this morning. I'm glad I did it twice though. Doing the full amount in one shot would have been a problem. This afternoon I went to the Southville State Forest to snowshoe around the ski trails. I did the largest loop which took about 90 minutes. There is finally enough snow so that the guy who has been driving his 4WD truck around in there has had to stop. I'm glad of that. Much of the trail system are on fire roads so you can drive in there but it messes up the trail to have truck tracks in there. The photo was shot as I came out around 4:30.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Joining the'Glitterati'

I intended to make my own Christmas cards this year but time slipped by and I realized it was getting too late for that project so I went out and bought some cards. They are nice cards with chickadees on the front and lots of glitter.

When I took the cards out of the box there were mini-drifts of loose glitter in the bottom of the box. As I wrote addresses and signed cards glitter clogged the tip of my ball point pen so that I had to repeatedly clean it off with a paper towel. Seeing the glitter all over the dining room table top it occurred to me that perhaps I should seal these envelops with cellophane tape or a sticker, it might not be good to lick them and ingest all that glitter. I wiped up most of the glitter on the table but glitter remains on the floor around the table and in the kitchen from walking to the fridge to get a drink while working on the card project. The floors in both rooms sparkle with their own version of holiday cheer.

When Diane came home from work she commented that I had glitter on my face. Only then did I remember the odd looks I had gotten when I went out late in the afternoon on some errands.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Down by the Riverside

The last of the Christmas packages have been shipped except possibly for one. We haven't found that gift yet. We'll look for it this weekend and send it by mail if we find what we're looking for.

Since we now have snow I decided to go snowshoeing for the first time this winter. It was fairly mild, temperature around freezing, and I took my camera (as usual).

I shot a couple dozen pictures but this is the one I liked best. I found this beech sapling down by the river in amongst a grove of mature hemlocks. I've always been attracted to the beeches. They have wonderful grey bark and they hold their leaves longer than any other deciduous trees in this corner of the world. When all the others are stark and bare, the warm colors of the beech leaves stand out against the snow.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Weathering the Weather

Yesterday we got about 5-6" of heavy snow. The postmaster remarked that it was more than we got all last winter. I doubt that but it was certainly more than we had at any one time in the last two winters. It was the final straw or in this case snowflake that prodded me to buy a snowblower.

It kept up all night and by this morning we had 13½" on the level. Clearing up with the snow blower didn't take any less time but it was a lot less work. I still had a bit of shoveling to do and when I was cleaning around the bird feeder the chickadees continued feeding, although they did keep an eye on me.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Our Everlasting Christmas Tree

We broke down and bought an 'everlasting' tree this year. Everlasting is a nicer word than 'artificial'. Aside from not having to water it, clean up the fallen needles, etc. I find it handy that when decorating it I can bend the branches to hold the ornaments and they stay where I put them.

I call it a Christmas tree but if you celebrate some other holiday at this time of year, religious or otherwise, feel free to think of it as a Hanukka tree, a holiday tree or whatever. The tradition of festivals around the winter solstice goes back centuries before the beginnings of Christianity and the Romans used to decorate trees and exchange gifts during their solstice festivals. December 25th isn't really the birth date of Jesus. Christians sort of inherited the tradition from the Roman holiday after Constantine made Christianity the 'official' religion of the empire in 324 CE. No one knew the actual date so the existing holiday was adapted as a matter of convenience.

Given its roots, the flap over whether a public tree is a "Christmas tree" or a "Holiday Tree" in recent years is a bit silly. There have always been a variety of celebrations around the winter solstice based on the hope of renewal that comes with the lengthening days. It is in that spirit that I share our tree of celebration and wish everyone a happy holiday.