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Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Already?

It is, tomorrow. And, I'm looking forward to storing away the 2012 Day Timer I bought to keep track of our home building project. Back to an electronic calendar, with a hopeful assumption that 2013 will be, at least, a less complicated year.

Looking back, it was really a mixed year of some big changes. Building our house really too a full year, from signing a development contract to getting the grading fixed - and were not there yet. It's pleasing and comfortable, warm and cozy. Still more decorating to do (I'll be playing with a new mat cutter today, preparing to frame some woodcuts Karen purchased on ebay). And, perhaps, this week the excavator will bring in a load of fill dirt to dump in a sink hole that developed atop our septic tank and is serving as a conduit for rain and snow melt into our crawlspace. For the past few months, out builder has been pumping and drying out the crawlspace (but the tree frog down there is still alive and croaking).

During the construction, I had been worried about being able to climb up our 10-12% half-mile driveway following snow and the formation of ice, but the combination of snow tires on both our vehicles and a plow blade on my ATV has taken that worry off my platter of concerns.

May was tough, with the loss of three cats to a rapacious coyote down at the old house. Blue was old, and given the roaming life he'd led, I was surprised he lived to about 15; Tigger was annoying little cat, who sprayed everything that didn't move;


Ricky, the big orange tabby, was my favorite cat. Only the year before he disappeared, he'd discovered the joy of hunting, and, given the fact that a previous owner had removed his claws, he'd become pretty good. I'm sure he died doing what he discovered he loved.

I brought Pepper home a few weeks later. He's a loving, manipulative dog, something of a clown, but usually quiet in the house. He's made walks more enjoyable and made our mud room even more of a necessity.

We were relatively healthy this year. I had only one trip to the hospital, but it was just catch and release for dehydration - careless lack of water intake at a burn pile. Karen's got some joint aches and pains, but that's the trade-off for aging. I turned 62 in October and received my first Social Security check in December. Could I have waited? Sure. Would I be alive at 65? Who knows. Speculation aside, SS more than pays for our new mortgage.

Both our mothers are still floating in that twilight between cognitive life and physical death. Karen's mom has been in assisted living with dementia for nearly five years; my mother with the same condition for four and-a-half. Thank heaven for Medicare and Medicaid.

Finally, the re-election of President Obama was a vote for fiscal and social sanity (a concept better left unspoken here in northern Idaho) and a reprieve from Mitt Romney as our commander/social conscience/consoler/inspirer-in-chief.

Here's looking to a stellar 2013.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Oh, Yes, It's Winter

Autumn's been a time for rain, more rain, and lots more rain. With a sinkhole over our septic tank, the rain built up into a kiddie pool and leached into the crawlspace under our house. Another four inches. Mike Tinsley, from Stratford Building Corp., came out, ripped out the Visquine tarp covering the crawlspace dirt, pumped out most of the water and brought in a series of increasingly powerful heaters to dry up the rest - well, most of it. In the meantime, we had rain gutters installed around the house, draining rain and snow melt onto our gravel driveway and into a drainage ditch behind the house and running down the hill. The builder's excavator will be dumping some fill into the sinkhole this week, and Mike will tamp it down with a Johnny Jumper Compactor (kind of like a jackhammer with a steel plate on the bottom). Eventually, we'll get this settled out. But, today's big story is snow.

We got about four inches overnight, and it's snowing again as I write this.

After a quick breakfast, I fired up the ATV and plowed our driveway down to the county road, stopping at the old garage to pick up Pete's old bedding to dump in the trash can before pickup. Pete's been living the house with us for the past month or so, and is very comfortable - even though he and the cats hiss at each other, and Pepper does his best to gobble up Pete's food.

Pepper's First Snowshoeing
Plowing on the way back up, I ran into our neighbor, Theresa, who walks her Australian Shepard and Mastiff on our place. They'd just come down in the snow, and she was still glowing from her first snowmobile ride last weekend or the week before. Dave, her beau, had bought her a snowmobile. "He must like me," she said, smiling broadly. Yeah, I think so.

When I got back, I put Pepper on a lead, strapped on my snowshoes, and headed down to the spring to put the SD card back into our trail camera. Who knows, maybe we'll get more shots of our neighbors' Tamworth hog.

I soon discovered that snowshoeing poles are a hindrance while walking a dog on a lead. The hand upon which the lead is looped can hold a pole, but really can't use it. The off-hand is useful, but the best pole is - Pepper, the wonder dog. And, since the snowshoes provide great stability, poles really aren't necessary. Pepper's a puller, and as we walked to our topmost meadow, it occurred to me that, even though he's only about 50 lbs., Pepper would make a terrific sled dog; except that his hind leg feathers accumulate a lot of snow, which ices over.

Pepper Resting Before Hill Climb

Snowy Feathers

Upper Meadow

On the way back to the house, we passed an apple tree, the fruit of which is hanging on for dear life, as if it hoped autumn would continue a while longer. No chance. Winter is here.

Stubborn Apples