Saturday, December 27, 2008

Insane Lumberjack & His Faithful Sidekick

One of the great gifts my parents gave me for Christmas was a special type of log-splitting axe called a Chopper One. I gotta say, it works magnificently... splitting log chunks in one stroke which would typically take a half dozen strokes with a sledgehammer & wedge. I also happened to have brought my chainsaw with me to cut up some tree limbs which had fallen in my parents' yard due to the recent ice storm. My parents are always getting gag gifts to go with the practical ones so they bought me a plaid flannel shirt and faux-fur-lined woodsman's hat to complete the ensemble.

Both pictures courtesy of my father.

I bet he could tow at least a small sleigh.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

...and feel a heck of a lot like winter. There have been several dustings of snow here, amounting to only a couple inches. There is nothing quite like waking up on a Sunday morning, having your day planned in a relaxed fashion... only to go take a shower and receive no water... finding that the intake pipe from the well has frozen because of defective heat tape. My friend Matt P. was incredibly helpful, he threw on his rubber boots and waded around in 8 inches of mud, water & ice... helping me to strip the old insulation off the pipe and put new heat tape & insulation onto it. We had the water working again by the time it was dark. Oh yeah, in latest news... I've taken on a couple of sublets (friends of mine, including Matt P. who is seemingly handy in all things home-repair related), it was another unexpected occurence that happened on short notice and due to dire circumstances in their lives, but it has been a blessing for all of us; Pepper included because he now gets more socialization and play time when I am not home. Speaking of which, he sends Season's Greetings to all of you!

Pic credit: My Dad

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What A Difference A Door Makes....

....when you insulate it... that is... an unused & ill-fitting steel outside door within a crooked frame in one's bedroom. After stapling a couple layers of cardboard & plastic over the entire outer frame I no longer feel a 15-degree difference when walking from the center room into the bedroom and the ever-present chilly breeze blowing across my face when trying to sleep at night... is not there to wake me up anymore. Interestingly enough I slept better last night. Coincidence? :-p

I still feel a bit overwhelmed by the length of the to-do list of things to fix on this old cottage/cabin, but it is slowly becoming more manageable as I triage it in my head and plug away at the most urgent tasks. It also helps that I have an old friend who is extremely handy with all things home-repair-related moving in as my sublet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


For lack of thoughtful or insightful things to post right now, I will try to pacify you with a roundup of various animal pictures, some of which have been on my camera since late winter.

"Fat Cat" has an appropriately descriptive name. He belongs to some of my friends who pitch a tent in my yard occasionally and they often bring him with them when visiting.

I told my friend Jen the other day that I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those people who talks about my dog way too much... and that promise has been shattered. I feel like the stereotypical proud father who bores everyone to tears with endless pictures and conversations about his new-born child.

Pepper hiked all the way up Mount Mansfield with me in Northern VT recently.

The endearing, maudlin "beggar boy" look refined to an art

This is what happens when we get too curious about porcupines!

Schmoozing with my friend Jeanette at work

Jen's two dogs: Kindred & Addie

"Stella", a white umbrella cockatoo

Spending time with "Kayden" (scarlet macaw) at work. He used to routinely draw blood on me but after establishing that he would not get his way by biting (and by repeatedly plying him with treats & toys) I have become one of his buddies.

A most unusual hand-raised baby sun conure who actually likes to sleep on his back. Countless times we had customers dutifully reporting to us that they thought one of our birds was dead. We eventually posted a sign to let everyone know that this behavior was normal for this particular bird. Side note: in the wild, this behavior would most likely cause this little guy to become another statistic to explain natural selection.

A jade goby who has taken on the habit of lighthouse-perching, might this be the piscine version of pole-sitting?

"Duchess" is a very beautiful and spoiled bearded dragon who visits us frequently when her family comes in to buy food for her.

My friend Josh has recently raised a breeding pair of angelfish, the two white dashes in the lower left corner are some of their babies.

Leaf Turtle: she is the most athletic turtle I've ever seen, frequently climbing in and out from among the rocks and scaling the side of her enclosure. I had to put extra weight on top of her cage because she kept escaping.

A "blue lobster" (actually just a selectively-bred species of crayfish) right after molting with his old shell visible directly above him. We leave the shells in the tank because they eat them and recycle the minerals.

I am normally not crazy about rabbits, but this little fella is admittedly cute and the most docile bunny I've ever met.

He will even fall asleep in your lap!

A young fox who hangs out behind my workplace

Chipmunk at my birdfeeder

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Blogging Frustration!

I love writing.

I like the connection that it gives from me to you, the reader.

I enjoy the fact that this medium is far more cohesive than the words which come out of my mouth because I can proofread it and ruminate over it several times before posting.

But life keeps me from doing it on a regular basis.... I promise to post pictures of this and that, I promise to write more in-depth about this and that.... and end up completely forgetting or procrastinating. I send thoughts and initiatives out into the open and they wander around aimlessly, waiting for me to rope them and ride them to somewhere, but then the the dog has to go out. The phone line is so polluted with static that my internet connection randomly drops and sometimes cannot reconnect for the better part of an hour (I will be overjoyed when high-speed wireless internet is available in rural areas like mine). There are countless things around the house and property which need fixing and/or cleaning. Friends visit from out of town. Loved ones call in need of my abilities. I have to work full time and keep the bills paid while keeping my highly-energetic puppy entertained & exercised so he feels loved and will not fall prey to the mental afflictions which highly social animals are subject to when they are neglected.

I don't mind the responsibility of it all. It feels great to be using more of myself than ever before, it helps me to grow; but there has NEVER been a time in my life when there was so much to do! It is critical that I learn how to juggle all this more gracefully so that I do not burn out.

My sincere thanks goes out to all those who keep up with my life here and I apologize that I can't visit with you more often. All good things in time. I will figure it out ;-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

(Almost) Unexpected Arrival!

It would seem that I waste no time... only a few months ago I was getting married to a mortgage and now... two daughters...

...HAVE A BIG LITTLE BROTHER!!! Dang it, I knew I should have been using birth control!!! But seriously, meet the new addition to my household: "Pepper" is a seven-month-old, sixty pound lab/German shepherd/great dane mix who came into my life on unexpectedly short notice.

I had been wanting a large dog for a long time and now that I've bought a house my lifestyle no longer involves potentially inhospitable, transient living situations. Still, I was not even planning on looking for a dog until next year. The circumstances around his arrival are strangely coincidental: a couple months ago I saved a big indoor dog crate from the dumpster (it was being thrown away only because it was a bit rusty) and just last week I purchased a large, outdoor chain-link kennel in preparation for the dog I was planning to look for next year (planning ahead is my strong suit). I have maintained for the last few years that I really want a German shepherd or a mixed-breed with German shepherd in it. The day after purchasing the kennel (keep in mind that this purchase and the dog crate were not known to anyone in my family) I received a call from my mother telling me that a friend had a beautiful german shepherd mix puppy that needed a new home because his current family was moving into an apartment which does not allow dogs. I was apprehensive at first but decided that this was a sign and I should at least visit the dog to evaluate him and consider whether or not I am truly ready for such a commitment. He turned out to have a great personality and a good foundation of household manners/training already in place so I decided to take him.

He is a bit of an awkward adolescent puppy who has more growing to do, even considering his generous size at seven months old. Because of his youth and rapidly increasing size he comes off as being a bit dopey and clumsy and he is in need of some polishing on his training, especially in areas of spacial awareness, but he seems to have been raised in a good home with caring owners who gave him a lot of the basics he needed to be a good family pet. He is seemingly intelligent, great with children, gets along with other animals, knows a few commands, seems to have no aggression issues (even with food & treats) and is housebroken.

Again life smiles upon me!
More proof that unexpected events are not all bad!

Friday, August 01, 2008


It is not often that I write about a piece of software on my blog, but I just felt I should drop a mention of Pidgin (for Windows, there are also versions for Linux and BSD)! For those who aren't familiar with Pidgin or it's defunct predecessor, GAIM. They are instant messaging clients which are capable of connecting to most of the major instant-messaging networks at once. I have one of the latest releases of Pidgin running on my home computer and it currently connects to instant messaging services by Yahoo, AOL, MSN, MySpace and Google all at the same time, and unlike GAIM it seems to have no issue with additional functions such as file transfer. Pidgin is free, open-source, has no advertisements or spyware, and it condenses all your instant-messaging accounts into one program with a clean interface. It isn't without it's minor bugs but I have been very pleased with it so far. If you are running a Windows machine I would highly encourage you to try it as an efficient alternative to having multiple, clunky, adware/spyware-infected instant messaging clients running at the same time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Revisiting A Bully

While rereading and ruminating about this post, I recalled a wonderful, healing experience that happened a couple months ago.

I was working my usual shift and a well-kept man about my age came in and circulated around in my department... eyeballing me curiously. He approached me and asked me for assistance. After talking to him for a couple minutes and giving him the answers he was after, he asked me if my name was (real name). He then asked if I recognized him at all. I did not. As it turns out, he was one of the bullies I mentioned previously. He said, "I've been wanting to tell you how sorry I am for the way I treated you back in school. It was wrong of me...."

We had been pre-teens in a backwards country school with terrible administrators who did very little about problem behaviors at the time. Bullying complaints were not taken seriously, even those involving damage to property & physical harm. It was all chocked up to "kids being kids."
Regardless of the his abusive tendencies (learned behavior from home) I still remembered him often since those years and worried about what might have happened to him as a result of the bad influences in his life. He was an intelligent kid, but also one who unknowingly wore his damage where everyone could see it; an angry little boy, sickly on many levels and it was easy to tell that some nasty things were happening to him outside of school.

I told him that I understood why he had been like that and he was forgiven. The guy has seen some horrors in his lifetime yet he still turned out OK!
This whole experience blindsided me in the best possible way, leaving me glowing and teary-eyed. The kid came to terms with it all and became a better man! Moments like these are what I need to hold onto, keeping alive my faith in the future and a positive direction for our species.

Yet again I come full circle in some fashion. No matter how many times you go around before, the experience always changes; bringing something newer and better than the last time. Giving up on healing past hurts does not mean that life no longer wants you to have the cure for them. The sardonic realist side of my personality used to whisper in my ear that this stuff only happens in movies, never in every-day life. The cynicism is still there, but it gets quieter and less prominent as time passes. Forgiveness takes on new depth in my life, but there is still more to forgive, I'm working on it. Remember that sometimes when you give up seeking the answer, the answer seeks you out and dumps itself in your lap.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Clowny Clown Clown!!!

Ummm, I'm not going to try to explain this video or make any excuses for it because I just can't! If you have any taste for absurdity or abstractism, it will probably hurt your mind but make you want to go back and watch it at least once more. (Or it might make you close the browser window and curl up on the floor in the fetal position.) I am not responsible for any effect this may have on your mental health.

I was told that the dapper gentleman in this video is Crispin Glover in his early days of acting, when he was making forays into the world of abstract art films and whatnot.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Nonsequitur = Idiot, Part 2 (possibly more of one than you originally thought)

Here are a few pictures of one of my parents' visitors; no zoom on the lense, I was literally five feet away. No, I was not terribly concerned. Yes, I had good running shoes on in case he did not enjoy having his portrait taken.

I believe this is the one my parents call "Boscoe." He is a bit larger than a great dane (and weighs in at a good three hundred pounds I'd guess).

He also has his own food bowl. I and other family members/friends have advised my parents that it is a very bad idea to get them used to being in proximity to humans, especially by teaching them to associate our species with food. I pray that this does not become an issue.

A hopeful sign: even though he allowed me to get really close to him, he still showed apprehension and flight tendencies whenever I made any sudden movements or approached too quickly. This indicates that he is still at least somewhat scared of humans, but if he was really hungry and a human was carrying food that smelled appetizing, who can really tell what would happen?

A snapping turtle (a bit larger than a soccer ball) I saw crossing the road not far from my house. Again, I did not use the zoom on this picture either. I've photographed other snappers before but they were quite agitated and never allowed me to get this close. He seemed very relaxed and indifferent to my presence....

...even when the camera lense was only twenty inches from his face.

I grew up around lots of wildlife and while I appreciate their beauty and their role in the ecosystem, there is also a healthy respect for the damage they are capable of. I don't advise getting this close to either of these creatures unless you are quite familiar with their body language, sometimes even that is no guarantee of safety (as many self-styled nature photographers with big scars could tell you).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Nonsequitur = Idiot

A couple months ago I bought a nice, big, brand-new chainsaw because there were a bunch of trees planted in bad places around my property (threatening to fall on the house, all over the leech field, too close together in haphazard rows). I jumped the chain last week due to improper tension and after an hour or so of filing & reconditioning the drive teeth I got it put back together and it seemed to be running normally; except it was not cutting very well at all. All it would do was slowly cut a groove in the wood and start smoking like mad. I tried everything I knew: lubricating all moving parts, sharpening the teeth repeatedly, repositioning the bar, adjusting the tension, etc... all to no avail. After two days of troubleshooting I got disgusted with it and tossed it in the shed with the intention of taking it to a specialist who works on them. I dug it back out the other day with the intention of taking it to the specialist but I decided attempt troubleshooting once more. It was still doing the same thing no matter what I did and as I exasperatedly shut off the engine I noticed something odd about the chain as it came to a stop... I had put it on backwards. Why don't I ever check the most obvious things first??!!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Uninvited Guest

Nothing enhances the ambiance of your recently-purchased cottage in the country like waking up in the morning and finding MUDDY PAW PRINTS IN YOUR BATHTUB.... paw prints which do not belong to your own cats or any other domesticated animal. Oh yeah, and then there are the raccoons fighting underneath your bedroom in the wee hours of the morning as well as getting into your recycling bins. I do believe it is time to purchase some chicken wire to skirt the house with!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mea Culpa

"Why so long between posts?," you may ask. I have been busy from dawn 'til dusk since the last time I posted here. Every day I've been covered with sawdust, mud, grease, soot and probable toxins. The home I've purchased needs a lot of man hours to make it a pleasant living environment. Am I complaining? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! This has been just the thing to spring me out of the rut I've been in for the last few years. Even though the place is a dump I still feel fortunate to have it. The house will not be in any condition to receive company for months. I am trying to keep my mind focused on the end product of my efforts in order to stay motivated.

The previous owners left me enough cleaning products, shampoo, conditioner, and skin lotion to last a decade. On top of that I've found no less than 20 cans of bug spray in various locations in the house. I guess they really disliked bugs. They also apparently had an OCD-type of fetish for scotch tape because they put it on EVERYTHING!!!!... wrapping container covers with it, the wallpaper seams, tying together clothes hangers with it... and that's just the tip of the iceberg... I even found a set of brass butterfly windchimes on a mobile and every component of it was taped to the wall behind the kitchen curtains. My camera is still with my sister and I will post pics as soon as I receive it.

Container gardening has been my idle pursuit between major household projects. Nothing fancy or extensive this year... just some tomatoes, peppers, basil, marigolds, and whatever I've been managing to scrape together from the native plant offerings. This year will be the time to discover and mentally catalog all the various half-wild perennials & herbs in the neglected flowerbeds, next year will be the year for intensive shoveling, dividing, replanting and generally more intensive gardening on a much larger scale. I would like to preserve most of the species that currently exist on the property, but they will need to be moved and organized better. So far I've found: peonies, rhubarb, some bizarrely-monstrous species of mint, more irises than I'll ever be able to pick, day lilies, lilacs (purples and whites), rhododendrons, azaleas, hostas, comfrey, astilbe, lysimachia (creeping jenny), daffodils, narcissus, tulips, periwinkle, and the list goes on.

AGAIN, MY APOLOGIES TO EVERYONE WHO HAS WRITTEN TO ME WITHOUT REPLY!!! My internet access is severely limited right now. I only get to check e-mail once a week lately and access from my house is currently slower than cold molasses.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I AM NOW MARRIED!!!....... a 30-year mortgage that is!

That's right folks, I am now officially a home-owner!!!!

I've finally fulfilled my dream of purchasing a fixer-upper cottage in the country and boy do I ever have my work cut out for me! There are some who would consider the place borderline condemnable, but I've seen far worse homes brought back from the brink of disuse and demolition. The elderly couple who lived in it haven't been able to take care of it for a while and I am facing a lot of repairs.

The current challenge is in getting all of the old stuff they didn't want out of the house and distributed where it can be re-used and/or recycled. But not everything they left behind is total junk.... among some of the useful and/or saleable objects they left behind are: an old singer sewing machine table (the kind operated with a foot tredle, I'm definitely keeping it), an old wood xylophone I found behind the dresser, a large electric pottery kiln (selling it), a late 70s (or early 80s?) model trailer mobile home that was left on the property, and a bazillion different useful tools and whatnot. I will be deconstructing the trailer and using the materials to fix up the main house. People keep telling me that I should scrap the main house and fix up the trailer instead... but I like older homes that have character and history in them. Besides, the main house stands to last longer than the trailer if it is repaired properly.

Time to break out the tools, dig in my heels and put down roots where I have been planted! I am excited to say the least!

Pictures of the good and the bad are forthcoming within the next week. I am intending to keep a working photographic chronicle of the fixing-up process my new home!

My apologies to all of those who have written to me and are awaiting replies. I've been extraordinarily busy and my phone line is not turned on yet, thus the only access I have to the internet is when I occasionally have the time to come into cafes or libraries with wifi.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Oddness Abounds...

I FINALLY HAVE A NEW CAR... YAAAAAY! That's not the odd part though... The middle-aged man whom my parents saw riding down the street on a bmx bicycle, with a quiver of arrows on his back, a thick & flowing beard, and a motorcycle helmet with an antenna sticking out the top... that might be part of it... or maybe the woman who waylaid my coworker with an extended diatribe about how all chronic masturbators should be locked up.... or maybe it's the man who wants to keep tropical fish in his outdoor pond in northern New England and insists that they can be kept in cold water if you feed them the right food... oh, and let's not forget the guy who thinks there is a conspiracy between the government, the religious community, and the medical community to conceal the fact that homosexuality is actually spread by pathogens (I'm pretty sure he also mentioned something about the neo-nazis being involved too)... life around here not dull very often.

Candid pic of my friend J (used by permission) demonstrating the potential of abandoned shopping carts as furniture.

2008 Subaru Impreza 2.5i Wagon
It is bad luck for a captain to pilot a ship with no name, so she is now known as "MATILDA"!

Hike To Gunnison Lake & Mt. Sunapee

Thursday was my day off so I decided to go on one of my long, rambling walkabouts (gee, I hope Australians aren't the only ones allowed to use that term). It is a form of walking meditation; helping me to iron out my priorities and recenter myself spiritually.

The map below details my approximate route which spanned seven hours, two towns and almost every type of terrain common to this area of New England. The experience ranged from falling into mud-holes through frozen snow, to scratching up my legs in dense underbrush, crossing a waist-deep freezing river, climbing 50 feet up a maple tree to figure out where the heck I was, viewing a beautiful panorama of the surrounding area from the top deck of the closed-down ski lodge on top of the mountain and on bare-soled sneakers skiing down slopes which had just been in use two days previously. I killed the soles on my old shoes and thought it curious that I never fell once (I fall frequently when actually wearing skis). I met my parents at the base lodge and we went out for pizza. Along the way there were abandoned shacks, partridges flying up in my face, bridges of questionable design & stability, and a cast-0ff crutch on the side of one of the trails. What a day. All pictures are in order of appearance on the trip.

Goshen/Sunapee NH area (click for a more detailed view)

Trails ranging from mixed mud & icy snow... snowy & slick.

Gunnison Lake (aka "The Goshen Ocean") with Mt. Sunapee in the background

Random trailer/hunting camp(?) in the middle of nowhere, literally 2-3 miles from the nearest road.

Should have listened to the little voice telling me that it was a stupid idea to wear low-ankle sneakers.

Some of the trails were washed-out

Falling-down shack in the middle of nowhere on the back side of Mt. Sunapee. The dimensions would indicate that it's primary use may have been for a hermit with an ascetic lifestyle or a temporary camping retreat for a single person. Just enough room for one to lie down in with a small stove and a backback. It measured about 9 ft. by 4 ft. and was just under 6 ft. high.

The stove was sitting outside the entrance, mostly rusted into the ground.

It was high enough that the trees near the top were very short, most of them looking to be 5+ decades old yet less than 15 feet tall.

Cell tower and lodge at the top.

Distant view of Gunnison Lake

Closer detail.

Ski lift

I found the severity of the language in this disclaimer enough to prevent me from taking this trail.

Lake Sunapee at the top right and Little Sunapee to the left

Awesome name for a trail!