Friday, November 18, 2016

Tears on the Mountain (And Black Helicopters)

Wow. Trust us, this helicopter was very close to our cabin.
Luckily, the nearby fire is at least a couple of miles away.

Emotions have been running high here on Flat Top ever since The Tuesday Our Nation Went Bat-Shit Crazy.  But politics aren’t the only reason for our tears. (And no, Mason didn’t really cry; Mason rants, and oh, how it has been nonstop.)

Our eyes are also watery because wildfires keep popping up nearby and we’ve been under a cloud of acrid smoke for nearly a week now. (Hmmm, ever since That Tuesday – coincidence?)  Today a military helicopter zoomed just 200-300 feet over our cabin with a bucket loaded with water that it fetched out of our little lake. Two minutes later it was circling back for more water. It must have made about 10-12 trips in a matter of an hour.

Just to remind those who aren’t familiar with our living situation: We live in a wood cabin, in the woods, with only one long road in and out, where we haven’t had rain in months and where the nearest fire station is NOT near and relies on volunteers.

To no surprise, I had a nightmare last night about the cabin catching fire.

Mason feels like a man again.
The other reason for my tears?  I have become a truck widow. A few days after That Tuesday, we finally found a used pickup we really liked, and we really needed a pickup Pick-Me-Up, so we spent a tad more than we wanted; Mason has been “playing with it” every day since. OK, OK, I guess new brakes, a full tune-up and changing all the lubrication fluids (it's four-wheel-drive; there are a LOT of fluids) isn’t really playing. But it's made a dramatic improvement in his mood.

She’s a lovely 1988 Ford F150 Lariat XLT. Cream with a fat red stripe and black trim – my old high school colors. And she’s got big fat tires, and I have to climb up just to get in the seat. Oh, and get this: It has a cassette player. Anyone out there still own any mixed tapes? We got rid of ours just a few years ago. Damn.

I haven’t asked Mason yet, but I’m just gonna start calling her Hillary. (After all, she was the actual winner, yet the Electoral College is going to give the job to the second-place finisher, i.e. Loser.)


Monday, November 7, 2016

The Sky Ain't Gonna Rain Any More, Methinks

Our hickory trees turn a great yellow.
 Two months later, and still no measurable rain. We have been taunted by exactly two brief showers. The rain gauge crept up to 1/8 of an inch after one of them.

 I feel as if this drought is sucking me dry of my personality, or at least the better parts of it.

So what’s a garden girl to do in what’s now been labeled an extreme drought by the weather guy?  I reseeded my dead lawns. Brilliant. For 10 days, I was a slave to the water hose, moistening the seeds every two hours in unseasonably warm 85-degree heat. When I’m not watering the lawns, I’m trying to sustain the plants. The arugula and lettuce have fared better than some of the shrubs.

Gardening is hard on the soul. And the increasing masses of hungry deer only aggravate the situation. Every morning I wake soon after sunrise to count how many there are. I watched them chew on this and that for a while, but when they start feasting on my new lawns, I rap on the window and send them on down the road. Then I climb back into bed to wait for a more decent hour to rise.

Mason put up this sign a few months ago. He likes to think it keeps out the lookie-loos.
A cool front came through two days ago and finally we dropped back down into the 70s. In a normal year, I’d be celebrating the extra warm fall; but in a normal year, we would have had 6 inches of rain last month.

Adding to our gloom, the other day we noticed the screen atop one of our rain barrels had fallen into the barrel, and something furry -- and clearly dead -- was floating in it. A squirrel. Mason was quickly called in for burial rites. A few days later, after a trip to town to get some new screen, Mason emptied out the barrel to clean it up a bit before the new screen installation. It quickly drained of water, but not of squirrels. Three more drownings. Felt bad for the poor fellas.

The only thing that’s coming easy on the mountain these days is drowning our sorrows in Mason’s homebrew beer. A new one called Fresh Squished is all the rage with all two resident imbibers. We’ll be sure to have plenty on ice for Tuesday.

Nick, on an evening walk.