Thursday, October 31, 2013

First Snow!

Ruby and Chevy are Connecticut pit bulls.  Although it didn't snow in Stamford like it does here in upstate New York, it did snow.  As a matter of fact, our last winter in Stamford, while living aboard our boat, we had record snowfalls.  The dogs loved it, and loved playing in it, especially when we had big snowstorms.

Not so Olivia, the German Shorthaired Pointer we got in Savannah.  Olivia has been a Georgia dog all her life.  She shakes and chatters her teeth when it gets down to the 50s.  Well, yesterday morning we awoke to a very pretty dusting of snow.  It covered the ground as snow flakes gently floated down through the trees around our cabin.  Olivia not only took it in stride, but seemed to be friskier than normal.

Ruby wasn't too impressed with the little bit of snow we had.  Chevy was downright annoyed by it, and turned around and went back inside our unabomber cabin.  But Olivia decided to go nuts and started running all over the place, and then decided to wrestle Ruby to the ground  and roll her in this funny white stuff.

That didn't work for Olivia, of course.  Look in the pic above.  Although Olivia towers over Ruby, as she would over even other pointers because she's huge for a female German Shorthaired Pointer, Ruby outweighs her and has a much lower center of gravity.  Ruby also grew up in an off leash dog park in Norwalk, Connecticut called Taylor Farms.  Ruby has wrestled and held her own with dogs much, much bigger than she is.  No dog rolls Ruby unless she allows it.  Not even Chevy, who is a male pit bull as large as Ruby.  Ruby is the black belt karate kid of dog wrestlers and body slammed Olivia real good.  But Olivia took it in stride, and ran off to play in this strange white stuff.

We'll have much more of it coming, and soon, I'm afraid.  The status of the motor home that we bought to escape to Florida is up in the air.  We've been pestering the place that's supposed to fix it, Frank's Heavy Duty in Amsterdam.  They're replacing the master cylinder, repairing the flat, and inspecting it.  We also just lost all the lights on the horse trailer that we're towing Jeremiah to Florida in and so that's going to Frank's HD as well.

The brakes on the old Buick we got for a Florida car are locked up, and it's in another garage in Amsterdam as well.  All this is reminiscent of my time on boats, throwing thousands of  dollars to mechanics.

Hey kids!  Don't want to go to college?  Go to a trade school and learn to fix stuff!   Trust me, you'll always have a job, as long as I keep buying stuff.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


For my friends here in upstate New York, frost is a non-event.  They might groan a bit because they have to scrape the frost off their windshields before driving off, but other than that, it is a non-event.  Not so in the south, of course.  In South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida frost is a non-event because it doesn't happen.  Not often, anyway.

Pam and I made many friends while traveling south, many of whom stay down there.  Patti even gave Pam a winter coat, knowing that she would never put herself in a situation where she would ever need it again, as she and Rod cast off their dock lines to head for the Panama Canal.

As for me, I enjoy the colder weather.  Yes, it was wonderful getting away from it for a couple of years, but I've found the cold weather of late to be bracing.  And photogenic.

With the yellow light given, I've been trying to get back into the swing of things.  Pam and I did some chores at our property yesterday, with me keeping in mind my doctor's admonition to ease into things.  We took down our screen house coverings, got the generator started and charged the tractor battery, and put 39 bales of hale in the loft.  Not a big deal, but afterwards, I couldn't move.  Two months of total inactivity has sapped my strength and flexibility, it seems.  I need to get back into the routine of working, followed by victory beers, a proven system that has worked for me in the past.

Oh, and for you Earl fans, yes, he was right in the thick of things, working away like a 23 year old.  You can remind him that he's 83, and he'll probably respond with some kind of "I don't need that shit" statement.

While I'm still learning how to enjoy each and every day of my retirement, Earl has it down to a science.  He has the right mixture of work and just sitting, puffing his pipe.

It is the season of cooler weather.  Here is our forecast...

5-Day Forecast for Bleecker, New York

Today: AM Rain/Snow Showers, High: 50 F, Low: 37 F

Tomorrow: Showers, High: 57 F, Low: 54 F

Friday: AM Rain/Wind, High: 62 F, Low: 42 F

Saturday: Few Showers, High: 55 F, Low: 35 F

Sunday: Mostly Cloudy, High: 41 F, Low: 25 F

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

21 Degrees and Getting Colder

Here it comes.  Cold weather.  Oh sure, I knew it was coming.  But after spending the past couple of years down south, I can't say that I'm prepared too much for it.

We plan on staying here in upstate New York through the Christmas holidays and then heading to Florida.  Earl and Judi, who are older and much wiser, are leaving for Florida at the end of the month.

It is 21 degrees at 4:44 AM, which means that by 6 or 7 AM, the temps will drop another degree or two.

So?  Sew buttons on your underwear.  So Jeremiah's water will freeze.  And when Earl and Judi are gone, which is where Jeremiah is, they will shut down everything including their well.  We'll have to truck water over there every morning.  Hot water, to melt the frozen ice covering Jeremiah's water trough.

It's also chilly in the cabin.  Our wood stove is not air tight.   It is also not a top loader.  So that means it will only burn whatever we can pack in there, which is a three or four hour supply.  It's been five hours since I packed it and went to bed, so there is nothing but coals in there.  At 4:49 AM, it is only 72 degrees in here.  That might  sound OK, but consider that there is no basement on our rental cabin, so the floor (where my tootsies are) is probably 60 degrees.  I should move my butt upstairs where it is probably 80.

Such is life with a wood stove.

I knew it would be cold because it  was so clear last night.  Despite Pam's objections that I'm taking way too many star photos, I went outside and took a few anyway.  The sky was brilliant, as far as my night blind eyes could tell.

No, this doesn't get old.  This is a 30 second exposure, facing west, so you can see the star trails starting.

So today we need to get back to work.  I need to fire up my generator and charge the battery on the tractor, and fill the flat tire on the right front.  We need it for the back blade so we can plow  snow.

It is now 5:03 AM.  I just let Olivia outside because she asked to go.   She immediately began barking her fool head off at deer crashing through the woods around the cabin.

Good job, Dave.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Adirondack Park

Bleecker is wholly inside the "blue line" of the Adirondack Park.  It is the largest park in the United States, covering over 6 million acres, larger than the state of Vermont.  It is a mix of public and private land, with 1 million acres classified as wilderness.   Private land is regulated.  For example, here in Bleecker, the minimum lot size is 8 acres.

The idea for creating the park stemmed from the clear cut logging that was occurring in the 1800s.  Businessmen were worried that, without trees, erosion could silt in the Erie Canal and Hudson River.  In 1885, legislation was passed creating the park, declaring it "forever wild".  The land could never be sold or leased, but only used for the public's benefit.  There are over 3,000 lakes in the park, and 2,000 miles of hiking trails, the largest trail system in the nation.

Any changes to the park require a constitutional amendment, which means that an amendment must pass two state legislatures and a statewide referendum.

There is a proposition on November's ballot to swap 200 acres of land for 1,500 acres.  NYCO Minerals, Inc., claims that their Lewis mine only has two or three years of wollastonite left, and it needs a parcel of the park to expand it's mine.  In return, it will give 1,500 acres of land to the park, and return the 200 acres when it's done mining.  If it doesn't get it, NYCO will cease operations and put 100 people out of work.

At first blush, this sounds like a good deal.  Good business.  It is not.

In 2006, NYCO presented a plan to the Adirondack Park Agency to close their Lewis mine and open their Oak Hill mine.  Oak Hill has an estimated 25 years of wollastonite.

The  1,500 acres NYCO will give to the park has been logged.  The 200 acres they want contains old growth forest, with some trees estimated to be between 150 and 300 years old.

NYCO strip mines.  Their Lewis mine is 150 feet deep and 1,200 feet across.  It is a blight on the land.  When finished mining, NYCO will fill in the pit and plant seedlings on it, they say.

This would be the first time, since the park's inception, that a land swap has been proposed to benefit a private business.  There have been land swaps in the past, but they were for public benefit, such as expanding an airport  runway or a cemetary.  Swapping land for corporate gain sets a dangerous precedent.  The park would no longer be "forever wild".

If you'd like to see what NYCO's strip mine looks like, click this link to a Times Union article.

Sadly, I think this is just another case of corporatism in America, where corporations are running ramshackle over the public good.  If  you live in New York State, please vote NO on proposition 5.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Boys & Girls Club

It's time to pull the ol' soap box out, put it on the busiest street corner in downtown Bleecker, and promote an organization near and dear to my heart.   The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Pam and I had a wonderful time at a local Boys & Girls Club fundraiser "Share the Spirits", a wine and hors d'oruvres event, held at the Holiday Inn in nearby Johnstown.    The wines that I sampled were awesome (except one muscato), the snacks were top shelf, and I "won" a finger painting at the auction, made by the kids.

Pam loved this.  It was a group project called "Unique" and taught the kids that while we're all similar, each one of us is unique.  Each child had a certain color fingerpaint and added his or her print to the tree.  On the back side of the painting is a color code with each child's first name.  Pam and I were the ones who kickstarted a movement to bring this club to Gloversville, and it was immensely gratifying to see it still running under the very capable leadership of local folks, benefiting area boys and girls.

It a was wonderful event, and I got to visit with many of my old friends and make new ones as well.

Notably absent were the local Gloversville politicians.  What better way to show support for this important organization in the city, which now has two outlets, one at Dubois Apartments and the second at Park Terrace Schools.  And maybe even garner some voter support.

Ah, whatever.  But a note to my Fulton County friends.  Bonas Discount Liquor was not only one of dozens of area businesses to support the Boys & Girls Club with donations, but were a major sponsor, providing all the wines for sampling.  In return, please support Bonas by patronizing them for all of your booze needs.  Thank you.

Let me tell you a little about the Boys & Girls Clubs and what they do, and don't do.  First, what they don't do.  They don't charge much.  They charge a pittance for the kids to participate.  When I was involved with the clubs five or six years ago, the cost per kid was something like $7 in annual dues.  Those kids that don't have the dues aren't turned away, but handed a broom to push or a few windows to wash to earn their way.

What they do do (tee hee, I said doo doo), is provide a safe, nurturing, positive place for kids to be.  Rather than grabbing a can of spray paint and heading for your neighborhood after school, club kids head to the club, where both paid and volunteer adults supervise them in fun activities.  No seriously, fun stuff.  Like participating in events, such as an antique and classic car show held to support them every year, or family fun days such as the local Railfest, or perhaps even some mundane stuff like making melted crayon art.

Every Boys & Girls Club chapter can tell you stories from their kids who profess that their lives were changed, or even saved, by his or her club.  Instead of getting into kid trouble, or worse, the Boys & Girls Clubs give our children positive options.  One notable club supporter is Denzel Washington, who was quoted at a recent gathering to support the Boys & Girls Clubs... “You will never see a U-Haul behind a hearse,” the Oscar winner said. “Whatever you've acquired in this life, you can’t take it with you. The Egyptians tried that. They got robbed.”

If you have a Boys & Girls Club near you, get involved either by joining its board of managers, or at least by attending their fund raising events.  If you don't have a club nearby, call your closest Boys & Girls Club to find out how to get a chapter started in your community.  That's exactly what Pam and I did many years ago, and we worked for over a year to get a chapter in Gloversville.  It's happened, and it's working. I have the finger paint tree to prove it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Yellow Light

I went to see my neurosurgeon yesterday.  He's given me the yellow light to resume normal activities, with a cautionary warning to take it easy and to ease into things.  This is great news.  After two months of inactivity, and posting on Facebook ad nauseum, I can get back to the property and start doing things.

The first thing I need to do is to fire up the generator, charge the tractor battery, and get it moved next to Todd the Trailer.  I'm going to tarp it for the winter to keep the snow off it.   Speaking of which, we've already had snow flurries here.

Pam is off to work at 5 AM for the next three days and I'm left with the dogs and cats to fend for ourselves.  This is what I woke up to this morning.

The bottom photo must be the result of a cat on the counter.  A glass was broken, so I left it until day time when I could see what I was cleaning up.

I love animals.   But sometimes...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Polaris, the North Star

I'm night blind.  I don't see much of anything outdoors at night.  Well, or indoors too, for that matter. So it might seem odd that I'm really enjoying astrophotography.   The reason is that I can't see what I'm photographing at the time, but I can see it once I download the photos on my laptop.  Such was the case last night.

The first photo was pretty funny, actually.  I thought I was shooting the milky way, but it turned out to be clouds.  The photo was still pretty cool, though.  The ten second exposure made the clouds seem wispy.

The next photo is actually five 30 second photos stacked on top of each other.  I pointed the camera in a northerly direction, and it was only dumb luck that I actually got the north star.

I would have stayed outside longer and taken more shots to get longer star trails, but it was in the 30s and very chilly outside.  I'd really like to get an hour or so of star trails.  Maybe if I get a wireless remote for the shutter, so I can stay inside the cabin and click it.  Or, wait until next summer.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Another Starry Night

Living here in Bleecker just doesn't get old, at least not yet. Yes, it's an hour round trip to buy a quart of milk, but then again we wouldn't have these bonfires or these starry nights.

I'm night blind and I can see only the very brightest stars, but thanks to my camera and special lens, I can see them all.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Empress and the Pecking Order

We're still dog sitting Empress, a pit bull mix of some sort.  She's less than half the size of our pit bulls, so it must be some kind of small terrier mixed in there, I'm guessing.  But she still has the heart of a pit bull, along with the energy of a Jack Russell Terrier.

To be blunt, she's making our dogs nuts.  She wants to play constantly.  Ruby and Chevy are into play time for ten or fifteen minutes, and that's it.  Olivia, our German Shorthaired Pointer, can go for an hour or two straight.  Empress can go all day.

This morning, after being let outside at the crack of dawn to do their doggie business, the dogs came back in to get more shut eye.  Not Empress.   She slept for maybe ten minutes while Olivia looked on nervously.

She then wanted to play.  Olivia ran outside, so Ruby was next.  It was only pit bull play bites, but I guess it can be annoying when you want to sleep.

Ruby gave Olivia "the look", along with a raised lip and a low growl that seemed to get the point across.

So Ruby laid back down to sleep.   Empress decided to lay next to her.  Once in awhile she'd give Ruby a doggie kiss, which Ruby didn't mind.

Watching the interaction of these dogs is interesting.  They're pack animals and so accepted Empress, but they have to assert the pecking order.  Empress is at the bottom.  Someone needs to tell her that, though.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Roasting Field Mice

It's autumn, and along with bare trees and cool, crisp nights in the Adirondacks comes bonfires.

Bonfires are better than TV.  There's no commercials, no reruns, and no lame laugh tracks.  There's something mesmerizing about a fire... the glowing coals, the dancing flames, the snap and pop of the embers... that's primeval.   Primitive man no doubt felt exactly the same way, huddled around his campfire, roasting his field mice on a stick, taking comfort in the warmth and glow of his fire.

You should consider building bonfires, no matter where you live.  It may be a useful skill to have after January when our adept Congress decides whether to shut the government down or keep it open again.

I did.  I used "adept" and "Congress" in the same sentence.  That's called sarcasm, and I'm very good at it.

Now, I just need to learn how to catch field mice.  They probably taste like chicken, eh?   With some hot sauce, maybe like chicken wings?  Being thoroughly modern, we did hot dogs on a stick.  There is absolutely nothing better than a campfire cooked hot dog... all black and charred on the outside... crunchy... perfect!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lunar Eclipse

About 30 years ago, I set the alarm on my boat for the wee hours to see a lunar eclipse.  I was anchored out on the Great Sacandaga, far from any light pollution.  I wasn't disappointed as I shoved the hatch back, being witness to a huge reddish colored moon overhead.  I didn't have decent photography equipment back then, so I was looking forward to last night's lunar eclipse.  I was even supposed to peak at a decent hour, 7:50 PM.

I took the camera and tripod outside, took a few practice shots to set everything up, and took the following photo.

To my naked eye, it didn't look any different from any other moon, as bright as ever.  But toning it in my photo editing software, I could make out the dark shadows at the moon's southern end.  Still, not very dramatic.

I'm still limited in my activities due to my accident of getting whacked by a tree.  Most of my day is spent sitting at this laptop.  I've gotten bored enough to even argue politics on Facebook, something I once vowed I would never do.  But I've also started listening to records.  Yes, records.  Those flat black vinyl things that came before cassette tapes.

I played many of my records;  Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, the Beatles, the Doors, the Rolling Stones.  Then I opened another box.  It was records that were my mom and dad's.  Records I hated as a teenager.  I played a Billy Vaughn record.  Not bad.  Pretty good, actually.  It's all instrumentals.  For you kids out there, an instrumental is a recording of only instruments, no singing.  Yes, there were bands that didn't include singers, believe it or not, and Billy Vaughn was the biggest selling band of all time.  Then  I played a Great Instrumental Hits record that contained tunes from many bands.  Some I even recognized from pop radio, like Telestar by the Tornadoes and Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissberg.

Maybe it's my age, but I'm liking it.  These guys were good.  I just fished out an LP (long play, for you kids) by James Last titled el condor pasa.  According to Wikipedia, Last is a German composer and band leader.  What caught my eye on this one is that it's still got its plastic wrapper on.  It retailed for $4.98, but J.M. Fields had it on sale for price "E".  I don't know what price E is.

So far, I'm not liking James Last.  It's all cover tunes, like Cecilia, Blowin' In The Wind, Proud Mary, etc.   If you can't do it at least as good as the original, you shouldn't do it.  But I will give it a shot and let this side of the record finish before putting it back and finding something else,  just so I can say I'm open minded.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Team Sorting Again

Pam took Jeremiah the Horse to the team sorting event held at Adirondack Animal Land to see how he'd handle it.  Jeremiah is nervous in new situations and surroundings.  He was visibly anxious when Pam backed him out of the trailer.  Perhaps he got a whiff of the other critters there, like giraffes and zebras.  Pam rode him down to the barn where Jeremiah saw the heifers, the first he'd ever seen apparently, because he studied them intently.  He refused to go into the barn, and only did so when Kim rode in on Chet.  Jeremiah knows Chet, and so figured it was probably OK.

There was a full moon last night, and there will be a lunar eclipse tonight.  Hopefully it will be clear here.

Like last time, I didn't use a flash inside the barn because I didn't want to distract the horses and riders.  I set my ISO at 1600 with as fast a shutter speed as I knew I could correct with my photo editing software.  They're just a tad grainy.

Kim on Chet.

Pam on Jeremiah.

Jeremiah quickly recognized what his job was, and casting all anxiety aside, got right into it.

I wonder if they're talking to each other?

This dog loved watching the heifers.  


So Jeremiah did just fine, better than Pam expected.  I guess what they say is true.  Morgans love to have a job to do.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bleecker Bonfire

A favorite pastime in this area is having a bonfire.  The cool, crisp autumn days are perfect.   No bugs, and it feels nice to get up close enough to feel the radiant warmth of the fire.  The flames are hypnotic.

Judi, Earl, Bill.

Bonfires are best once the sun sets.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Meet Empress The Dog

We're dog sitting for a few weeks.  Empress is a pit bull mix of some sort.  Definitely pit bull... mixed with what?  Jack Russel Terrier?   I'm not sure, but she fit right in with our two pit bulls.

First, she terrorized Chevy, the big 80 pound male pit bull.  What a wimp Chevy is.

And then it was on to Ruby and Olivia.  Ruby, our female pittie, can take care of herself.  Olivia, our German Shorthaired Pointer, was totally outclassed.  Oh sure, she tried to compete, but in the end knew she couldn't.

So for the next month we have four dogs, two cats, and a horse.  I don't mind that much.  I love animals, and Empress is a real sweetheart.  She's tiny for a pit bull, half the size of Ruby and Chevy, but she makes for a good lap dog and snuggler.

Yep.  Pam and I watched a movie last night (Mirror Mirror, great family flick) and Empress snuggled right in.  Pit Bulls are the best dogs ever.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dave Gibson Horse Photography

This blog is not a back to nature blog. nor an off the grid blog... like our Drift Away cruising blog, it is a lifestyle blog.  It is about what life is like living in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains while building our little homestead in the woods.  Our chosen lifestyle seems to include many animals, including a horse.

Pam is a horse person.  I am not, but I get it.  I really do.  So shortly after moving back to upstate New York, Pam bought a horse, some tack, and a horse trailer.  She's just getting back into horse-type events.   Yesterday was an informal gymkhana.  I brought my camera, of course.  It's what I do.

The first pic is just the decorations that Pam put at the head of our driveway.  I didn't know where else to post it, so I did it here.

And then off to the south side of the river (Mohawk) for a nice drive through the rolling hills of Montgomery County to the gymkhana!

This little girl in the pic below had the slowest horse.  Ever.  But that didn't stop her from having a fabulous time.  Just about every photo I took of her showed her ear to ear grin!

Maybe the adults have forgotten what's it's like to just relax and have fun?

Pam and Jeremiah.

This little girl was very photogenic.


One event was to ride your horse to the end of the corral, spin around on a baseball bat, and then run to the other end of the corral.   Please note the look of concern on the horse.

Here comes Pam!

After spinning around the bat ten times... um... do you notice how far off course she is?

A look of determination.

Another pony passed by.

And a good time was had by all.

Yesterday, we temporarily added another dog to our three dogs, two cats, and a horse.  What the heck.  Details to follow.