Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!!!

Best Walking Wishes for 2011

Wishing a very happy and healthy New Year to all Brittany Walkers and other followers of this blog. We had a great 2010 with lots of good weather luck, new walks and new walkers, so I'm setting the same agenda for 2011.
Have a look at our website ( for recently added information for those whose resolutions include building up their fitness from scratch and improving their health through gentle walking. It really is the best antidote to winter blues.
Our first walk is at Huelgoat on January 11th.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Where Sirens Lived

The story about Odysseus (Odysseus That Sailes 10 Years Round Sicily) was interesting for me because Homer tells about the Thyrrenian sea and about the coast of Campania.

In fact, even if the heroe passed more time to sail round Sicily, he passed near Sirens, too. Sirens were very beautiful females with feathering. They chanted to attract with their voices the passing sailors and ate them.

Scientists wanted to understand where is the place they (Sirens) lived, precisely, and if this legend can be truth. One of the possible destinations is situated not far from Sorrento. The village has the name Sirenuse till today.

So, how was it possible to listen those special voices? As you see on my photo, the coast is rocky. Some places have very good acoustics. But it is unpossible to hear voices of the persons from the ships. Than, scientists noticed that the "chants" of the Mediterranean Monk Seals (one of the most endangered mammals in the world today) that were very numerous in antiquity here are loud enough to be heard from the ships. And so this is one of the possible explanations of the phenomena.

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If you want to visit all the places bounded to "Odissey", the best solution is to book a Mediterranean cruise that allows you to see all the coasts so as the Greek sailors 4000 years ago did.  Open the page to look around the offers. And, if you are interested in the deals of the moment, pass to my Travel Fan Page (by the way, "Like" it, mmm?)

You can subscribe my newsletter for updates of my blog "Marvelous World of Travel", too.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Winter in Moscow

Moscow is a city where I was different times but don't feel it as a place I know good enough. Moscow is too big to know it. Than, it changes very quickly. I found these very interesting photos that show the capital from very interesting point of view. Winter. Not too cold -it seems to me, because there is fog and the water in Moskwa-river is not frozen else. But there is snow on the streets. Beautiful...

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By the way, if you are interested in river cruises in Europe, in Russia or you would like to sail for  Scandinavia/ Russia or Baltic capitals, you can write me at and we will discuss the possibilities of a splendid dream cruise vacation for you. You can throw a glance on cruise booking online too

Friday, 24 December 2010


Snow did not stop our traditional Christmas Eve walk, although it nearly finished us all off! We ventured as far as Simonsbath, a tiny little village in the middle of Exmoor, but easily reachable on fairly main roads, all of which were clear of snow. There is little in the village but it does boast a pub, tea rooms and a hotel. Lovely on a nice summer day.

Our first obstacle on arriving was the road to the car park, shown above - a pretty country lane with picturesque cottages, but not to be travelled on unless in a 4x4. We parked at the side of the main road and walked it. In the car park is a very helpful map, showing our planned route (we had the Jarrod Walks Book with it in). The map also showed us our planned short cut down the main road back into Simonsbath. Hooray for the short cut! Read on to find out why.
We followed a footpath labelled Prayway Head up a very steep hill and through the woods. Beautiful trees still laden with snow and nice crisp white stuff underfoot that no one else had trod. The dog went wild. Then on down to a stream and up into a field full of more virgin snow. And up, and up, and up. By the time we were half way up my legs were killing me. Walking through deep snow that no one else has been in is really hard!
It was very beautiful though. We stopped for frequent rests. We took lots of photos, which will be published on the Betazoids blog sometime later tonight. At the very top of the field we turned left into an area the guidebook said was tussocky and boggy. It certainly was that. And the snow got even deeper. Lots of us fell over. Daughter no.2 declared it 'The best Christmas Eve walk ever,' Daughter no.3 got cold and wanted to come home.
When we got back to road we all cheered! An easy walk down hill to the car. I can thoroughly recommend this walk to anyone who is really fit, although I imagine walking it when there is no snow would be a lot easier. For those not inclined to walk, come to Simonsbath in the summer and try out the tea rooms or the pub.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Wishing all Brittany Walkers a very Happy Christmas and lots of good walking in 2011. Photo shows Tuchenn Kador in the Monts d'Arr�e.


Sistine Chapel Panoramic View

This part of Sistine Chapel that is situating in Vatican's residence of the Pope is known evrywhere. Not all other pictures decorating maybe the most known chapel in the world, are as much fortunate as this picture is.

To allow all the people in the world to admire the masterpiece of Michelangelo, Vatican ordered it's panoramic view uploaded in an internet site. We often criticize church and do not think how many good things the priests do. This is one of such examples (if we think how much costs this work).

To enjoy the view, you can not only move the image right/ left but you can zoom every part with the wheel of your mouse too. Here is the link

By the way, I read somewhere about the restoration that allowed to discover:  the original figure in the center of the chapel (Anchestors of Christ) was nude. The later owners of the chapel were scandalized by this view and ordered to cloth the body.


If you dream to visit Rome and Sistine chapel, give a look at this site of one of the most known companies where you can book a hotel in Rome or in any other side of the world.

Do You Know Italy?
On the Wall of my Travel Fan Page I publish questions about Italy. The solutions you will find a day later in the Notes there. If you follow my blog "Marvelous World of Travel", to remember the answers will not be too complicated for you.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Deadline Week

Christmas and the May Fishing Opener share a common question. Inevitably, someone will ask me, "Are you ready?" The truth often is that I am not ready, for either occasion, by the time the calendar page has turned. But the day comes, and somehow we do what needs to be done, and we enjoy the result. Really, what more can one ask for? Sure, it would be wonderful to be all organized and scheduled to finish things ahead of time, but it usually doesn't happen that way in my life.

This week happens to have a number of deadlines. The largest, of course, is Christmas, and all of the preparation leading up to it. It is also time for us to reopen the resort, and I have been working to get the cabins all cleaned and prepared for our incoming guests. And of course, we are in the final stages of a remodel project that needs to be done tomorrow.

Most resort owners seem to have a knack for finishing a project just as the guest is arriving to occupy the cabin. We have been known to do that. Try as I might, I can't seem to make that challenge disappear, so I just have to deal with it. This time, though, we have been fortunate enough to have a hero or two show up, just when we needed them most. The first was a good friend who came last week to lend a more than able hand to Greg. Our friend is better than that old TV character MacGyver. Not only is he every bit as capable and knowledgeable, but he is for real! Many thanks to him for all of his help.

Our second hero showed up on Friday night, and we were definitely ready for his assistance. He was up and prepared to work bright and early on Saturday. Looks like we're going to make our deadline, with time to spare!

Barbara Leary

I'm very sad indeed to tell Brittany Walkers that Barbara died last week. The funeral is at 1pm on Thursday, 23 December, at Grosvenor Church, Old Station Road, Barnstaple. Family flowers only, but donations to the Marie Curie fund most welcome.
Barbara was a remarkable lady, with a great store of knowledge about plants and the natural world. On our walking holiday in Le Conquet we all greatly appreciated this, as well as her quiet sense of fun and pleasure. Brittany Walks sends heartfelt good wishes to Barbara's daughter Beverly, who has joined us on several occasions in the past.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Frosty Photos

It was another cloudy day, but fortunately, I still have photos of the clear blue sky from a few days ago. The frost that day was not real heavy on everything, but it did seem to favor coating the littlest branches. Out of curiosity, I went looking through last year's pictures, to see what might have been happening at that time. I found the one below, which is a real stunner. We didn't get to see hoarfrost quite that thick and heavy this time around. But who knows, maybe some odd weather pattern will blow in at some point, carrying enough moisture to frost the trees. In the meantime, the pictures are fun.

It was a good day for painting, which is how I spent my time at Diamond Willow. As I walked back late in the evening, the almost-full moon was shining brightly through a light cloud cover. The snow was lit up enough to see without a flashlight. Up ahead, I saw something in the road. When it moved, I recognized it as a little fox, who was not expecting to see me. It ran ahead a bit, then paused to look back at me. When it finally figured out that I was human, it took off at a fast clip and disappeared into the woods. The most interesting part was the silent footsteps...not a sound they made, in contrast to the constant crunch of snow under my feet.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Time in the City

We are on the home stretch of our bathroom remodel, but one important element was missing: a sink. And since today happened to be the day that Paul was traveling back from college, a trip to the city was in order. Shortly after arriving, we got the word that he, too, was almost in town, so we made arrangements to meet at a central parking lot.

It wasn't long before he and his gear arrived, and we got everything settled in to the car. Then we were off to the home-improvement store, to find the sink and all of the other last minute little parts that were still needed. It took two trips into stores of this nature, but we managed to find everything. Paul wisely chose to stay in the car. It was packed so full that if he had gotten out, stuff would have spilled into his spot, and he wouldn't have made it back in.

Interestingly, for the time of year that it is, nothing of our purchases was holiday related. For that matter, it doesn't look very festive here at the lodge yet. We've been so focused on getting the project done that we barely glance at a calendar. And suddenly, we realize that it is a week until Christmas, and maybe we should be stringing up some lights and garland. There's some celebrating to do!

So the week ahead will be a busy one, but fun, too. It's amazing that a whole 'nother year is nearly over.

I made a discovery today along the way. The city has pink sunsets in December, too.Very pretty, but not quite like at home.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Winter Birch

On the days that the clouds move in and the sun remains hidden, it seems to be a monochromatic world out there. The evergreens look more black than green. Shades of gray abound. It gives me a bit of an idea of what it must feel like to be colorblind. But if this current color scheme means snow is in the air, I'm okay with that. We did get a few flurries today, though they were very sparse. Still, each flake adds up. I was again helping Greg, and he had me pulling nails from some boards. As I did, I could see little snowflakes on the wood. One had all six points and actually looked three-dimensional. Amazing little delights.

It's been a little over a month now that we have had decent measurable snow. In looking through my photos, I came across a couple that were taken on November 14th. It was our first big snowfall, and though we tried, the roads were not in decent condition for us to make it in to church. We came home, and decided that a walk in the woods was in order. So we headed up the Loon Lake Road, and then took the Border Route Trail spur that led back to the South Rim Trail. Since it had been cleared in October, we knew that it would be in good shape.

The hiking required close attention to our feet, but it still didn't stop us from taking in the beautiful scenery around us. The trees were heavily laden, thanks to the wet snow. As we went along, we noticed several birch trees that still had many little twigs and branches on them. This was noteworthy because, ever since the blowdown, we have seen a huge decline in the numbers of healthy birch trees. One school of thought is that the lack of shade (from all those trees that went down) caused the ground to receive more sunshine. That in turn warmed the soil more than the birch were accustomed to, and thus, they were tending to die off. To see healthy ones in this patch of woods was certainly good news.

One in particular caught our eyes. Greg identified it as a yellow birch. Most of what we have here are white, or paper birch. The yellow birch seem to grow larger, and the bark on them is much rougher. The one that we found most fascinating had twisted bark. It rather reminded me of a cedar tree.
I think that I will have to make a trek back up to that trail in the spring, so that I can see how this tree is doing in a new season. It will definitely be easy to spot.

Lost In Woodmont

I wasn't exactly sure where I was. I knew I was several miles west of New Haven but anything more precise or specific was hazy at best. After following streets with straightforward names like Beach Rd and Ocean Boulevard, the path became more confusing with each road becoming more narrow and circular. Was I in Milford? West Haven? I didn't know.

I spend a good portion of my floating life worrying about getting lost in fog. All the electronic devices in the world can't prepare you for that moment when a buoy isn't where you thought it would be. It is a scary feeling.

Unless you are hiking in the wilderness, getting lost on land is child's play. You are not lost in the classic sense, you are just not where you thought you would be. A little bit of backtracking or asking for directions usually regains your bearings.

But on this November morning, I felt I had been blindfolded and spun around several times. At least three times I passed the same house with a tiki bar on the front porch. The one-way streets all seemed to circle back to where I presently was. I was lost in a maze and couldn't find my way out.

I later learned  I was in the Woodmont section of Milford. Originally a summer community, it is now a mixture of various sized homes and designs. A walkway with random park benches wraps the shoreline and provides access to several small beach areas squeezed between the rocky shoreline

The most unique feature of Woodmont however is the rock themselves: orange phyllite. They provide a sharp contrast to the expected granite along these shores.

According to the Geology Of Connecticut, the rock is "a slate or phyllite, highly fissile, sericitic, and usually dotted with minute garnets."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Ice Fog

The view out the window this morning included ice fog when we first got up. The majority of the landscape was totally white.....No sky, no horizon, just white. I hadn't seen fog since sometime in October. It has a surreal quality when it is not its usual gray color. About an hour later, it had mainly dissipated, leaving behind a bank in the far north sky. In its place, the sun came out to highlight the frost on the trees.

The camera that I use is just a regular Sony point and shoot digital. Sometimes I wish for something fancier, so that I could capture the way the sun twinkles through those icy crystals that adorn each branch. It really is true that snow and ice can sparkle, but it is next to impossible to record that in a photograph. Still, I tried, by taking photos of two of my favorite trees.

I think of this aspen as the raven tree, since it is one that the raven pair will often sit in throughout the summer. It was also the home to the flicker family earlier this summer.

And a beautiful white words needed.

Italy Means Good Food

In only few months, the weather will change it's cold side here, the sun will shine brightly and many persons will come in Italy to know it's treasures.

One of these treasures is the so called Mediterranean Diet.


About it, there is one sad thing to tell you. The UE wants to destroy natural and for this reason precious aliments  produced in Italy (and in other countries). They vote all the laws in favour of great industries and "kill" this way little producers. And you know how the industrial food is. Personally, I suffer allergy on all the industrian additives and have to use only natural aliments, so, all the persons like me suffer from such decisions of corrupt deputats in UE parlament.

Well, I began to told you about the unusual possibilities to visit Europe and Italy. I was very surprized to find many "gastronomic"  tours among the offers of different tour operators. I just told you about the quality of the local wines (Passion For Wines From Vesuvius and other posts about the tasting) and explained why the wines and other aliments from Vesuvius are so different. In that posts I told that all those little fabrics are possible to visit and not only taste and purchase what you like from their products, you can even help the owners to make their specialities: olive oil, as example. This kind of relax -stay in a farm- is very popular in Italy so that you can find many similar farms in every region of the country today.

Gourmet walk, wine & cheese tasting, pasta-making, chocolate enjoying (even chocolate & wine "spas" -you remember, I just wrote about them) -all this seems to be for warm time tourism... But invention of attractions does not finish here. The winter-tourists, specially ski-lovers are persons too.

So, they decided to satisfy all the skiing gourmets. The notice of 2 days ago tells about the ski "excursions" when the group visits 10 restaurants descending the mountains. They eat a little piece of speciality of the restaurant, continue their way, enter an other restaurant etc.

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Loooking for a tour in Italy? Here you can book a hotel, and if you need an advise or help or translation, you can always write to me (, I'll help you to choose the vacation you look for. Visit my Fan Page to know all the last offers ("Like" it too ;-) and do not forget to subscribe my newsletter that will give you every Friday a smile and interesting information (Example)

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Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Glimpses of Ice

After two nights of sub-zero temperatures, I felt pretty safe walking on the ice right in front of our property this morning. It is such a neat feeling to be on that super hard, super cold surface that just a week ago was so wild and wet. Ice walking is one of my favorite winter past times. Today there was no wind, lots of sunshine, and miles of clear ice--with just a wee bit of frost on it for traction. Unfortunately, there was no time to be out strolling, as the list of tasks remains long. I did, however, grab a few moments with my camera to see what I could find.

At first glance, the lake looks completely white, with many interesting shadows crossing it. Because the winter sun travels so low in the sky, the trees cast some very tall shadows from shore. When I pause to look more closely at the ice, there is a miniature world of art at my feet. The frost crystals have grown to make up that solid white color I see, and each little shard helps to complete a bouquet of feathery images. It's pretty amazing that these tiny pieces can collectively give the impression that the lake is covered in snow.

I used my boot to push aside the frost, hoping that I might get an idea of how thick the ice has grown. All I could see was black, which is a good sign. That indicates solid strong ice. Without the dimension of a crack or two, it was not possible for me to guess at the depth. It was a lovely picture just the same.

Near to shore, I saw this white ice with its own little clusters of crystals. So many of the photos I've taken this month have a natural blue hue to them. I liked that this one was mostly whites, in varying shades. So many surprises out there, waiting for my eyes to see them.

Stop Motion Video = Lots of Patience

I found this video on Gizmodo:

Pretty incredible!

Monday, 13 December 2010

A Sunny Day

The sun came out today and lit up the lake with brilliant color. Too bad my camera can't capture it! Earlier this month, I said that it was my wish that it would snow everyday. That mostly came true before the lake froze. We missed out on the big blizzard that hit southern Minnesota. But nearly every day, we've had at least a bit of snow falling. The truth is that some of it could have been flakes induced by all the steam that was rising off the lake. Still I count it as snow, since it was white, flaky, and landed on all of the other similar stuff on the ground.

But today it was clear and cloudless, so I knew that it wouldn't snow. It was a gorgeous day, nonetheless, with a temp that started at 15 below and never made it above zero. Since a good friend is here right now to help Greg, I was free to do whatever I wanted to. I chose to bank snow around the base of Tamarack cabin. When I look out the window in cold weather and see the furnace exhaust constantly, it motivates me to do whatever I can to try to insulate that cabin. The exposed foundation needed some protection, and there is plenty of snow to work with right now. So I grabbed the shovel and went to work.I scooped snow from the deck and the ground around the cabin, and then tossed it up against the cinderblock foundation. Each shovelful added to the mound growing around the base. I was aiming to get up to at least the first course of logs, and with some steady work, I was able to achieve that. It quickly became apparent that I had overdressed for the job, though. I took my jacket off and found that my thick alpaca sweater was enough to keep me warm while shoveling, even though it was still ten below. I was impressed with that sweater! My mind wandered to the useful nature of snow, and what a good job it does to keep us warm, even if it is naturally a cold thing. Here I was, working up a sweat, and that same snow was going to keep the cabin warmer. Have you ever seen the photos of little cabins in Alaska, practically buried in snow? All that warmth around them! Wow. I'd love a winter that gave us enough snow to bank the cabins up to the windows. That would be the epitomy of the saying snug as a bug in a rug.

While I keep an eye on the sky and weather report for the next snow event, the deer have started to migrate through our property. These little ones were nosing their way by one of the cabins yesterday. They don't mind at all if people are ten feet away, as long as there is wood and glass separating us. Now that the lake is frozen, my eyes constantly drift out there, looking for wolf activity. Tonight is supposed to be well-below zero again, so that should thicken the ice some more. I expect well be seeing wolves again soon. In the meantime, I'll settle for a pink sunset, another nice bonus of this time of the year.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

And then......

The ice finally came. We woke to a still, serene scene. The waves now silenced until spring, that delicious quiet enveloped me. I love that moment, when the lake first freezes, and all I can hear is the silence and stillness.

The surface near shore is pebbled and rough. Further out, it's all white, but probably from frost and not snow.

But a surprise awaited us around the point. To the northeast, not quite halfway out, a large open lead still remained. The blue stripe lapped and rippled, still open and free. By tomorrow, we expect to see it undercover as well.

What a magical time, to see the lake go from its churning and waving, and overnight, it has been silenced.


The weather here is starting to get really nice most days:

The only problem with that is that we'll be going to Colorado in a few days, and I know it's going to be cold as balls there!

Oh well.

As an aside, I hope that this video works in the U.S. It's the video for "Summertime," the song by D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. I remember I bought their cassette Homebase at a Wal-Mart in Missouri in 1991 or so. I had gone to Missouri with my best friend Jared to visit his grandparents. I was 11 years old, and it was the first time I'd been to Missouri (and Wal-Mart, for that matter). So this song brings back memories of that trip:

-First time in Missouri
-First "rap" cassette
-First time at Wal-Mart
-First meal at the Olive Garden (in Columbia, MO)
-First time I bought hockey cards
-First time I got verbally assaulted by a small-town teenage hick (although it certainly wouldn't be the last!)

Only some of these memories can be classified as "good." I'll let you sort out which ones. Until then, enjoy some barbecue, and drive around in your car at 2 miles per hour (so everyone can see you).

Xmas presents for walkers

Our website ( has some suggestions for Christmas presents for walkers and potential walkers, or even couch-potatoes ;-). Have a look for some unusual books and practical stocking fillers. If anyone wants to give a partner or friend a voucher for free walks with us (in any multiple you like) in 2011, just ask!
Dates for January and February events are now on the website too.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Decorations of White

No one can flock a tree the way Mother Nature can! A view of today's handiwork:

Friday, 10 December 2010

And the Snow Just Keeps Coming

Yesterday was a long day. We worked most of it out at the cabin, trying to get the remodel to come together. We were waiting for a delivery of more materials, and then we heard that the delivery guy couldn't make it all the way up to our place. It had been snowing for several hours, and time was running out for him. So he left our stuff at Bearskin Lodge. That was fine, but it was dark by the time we left to go pick it up. And it continued to snow.

By the time we had loaded it all up and headed back towards home, it was six-thirty. Unloading took another half-hour, and then we gobbled a quick dinner. At that point, the plow guy told me that he needed to go out and take care of one of his contracts. So off we went to plow the Mile O Pine road. I rode along for the fun of it. Greg tells me that plowing is fun, and I wanted to see for myself.

It is really cool to see all of that snow in the headlights, and then to watch it heap up and cascade over the plow. Then he pushed it all into a magnificent pile in a strategic spot on the roadside. I must say, I was impressed. What was even more amazing, though, was that at one point, he started to slow way way down, and then he said, "There is a rock right about here." And of course, at that very moment, the plow hit a rock. That can only come with years of experience. This looks like one of those years that will only add to his experience. When asked in town today how much snow we have, I said that we must be going on at least twenty inches by now. I haven't had time to go tromping into the woods, but I expect that when we go out to find a Christmas tree, we will be sinking in deep. Best snow year in a long time!

A Few Pictures With Comments

I had meant to comment on these four things:

First of all: STRIP CLUBS. As we all know "from the movies," strippers run on money, specifically paper money. So how does it work in a culture like Costa Rica or the Eurozone where they use coins more than bills? For example, the lowest-denomination bill here in Costa Rica is the 1,000 colones note, which is worth about 2 dollars. Not too expensive, I suppose, but consider the Eurozone, where the lowest bill is 5 Euros. So, in those types of cultures does a stripper strap a coin purse to her thigh, or does going to the strip club simply mean an expensive night out?

Next: BIGFOOT. Just kidding, that's not Bigfoot, although the picture quality might indicate that. It's actually an anteater that I saw from my car (he was really close at first, but by the time I got my camera out he had already plodded off). So, apparently there are anteaters in Costa Rica:

This is the "Oso Hormiguero," or "Ant-er Bear."
(I found this picture here... and why is he in a tree instead of on an anthill? Does this mean this sucker can fly??)

Just so you know, if you want to name an animal in Costa Rica, just take the word "oso" (bear) or "zorro" (fox) and then add a second word that vaguely describes what that animal is into. For example:

-Oso Hormiguero: "Ant-er Bear" = Anteater
-Oso Perezoso: "Lazy Bear" = Sloth
-Zorro Pel�n: "Bald Fox" = Opossum
-Zorro Apestoso: "Stinky Fox" = Skunk
-Zorro Peque�o: "Small Fox" = Cat
-Zorra Desnuda: "Naked Fox" = Stripper

Actually, I was just kidding about those last two, but the others are true.

CAKE. I made this the other day, and it's really, really tasty and really, really easy. If you've got some chocolate powder and red wine sitting around, then this recipe has your name on it. Just give it a try.
(Note: I used a silicon pan, so that may have affected the bake time. The recipe says 40 minutes but I needed to bake it for just over 60 till it was finally done)

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

99 Problems

If you're havin' weather problems, I feel bad for you, son.
I got 99 problems but the beach ain't one.

Ice and Snow

About all of that ice in front of Diamond Willow cabin yesterday? Gone. The wind switched and took it all somewhere. Either that or it melted. When I went over this morning, only the thicker shelf of ice nearer to shore remained. This is really quite a process. I was thinking about how the water tends to almost look thicker as the ice-up draws near. Even though the viscosity doesn't change, it almost looks like it does. Yesterday it was displaying that. Today it is as wild and free and full of waves as ever.

As we walked past the beach to go eat lunch yesterday, the ice there was quite interesting. It was rather like folds. Greg stepped out on to it to explore it. For several days, we had seen the ice forming, but it did not have the rippled and folded texture to it. Since he was on his way to the boathouse to check on something stored there, he decided to continue along the shore on the new ice.

See that darker grey part towards the middle right of the photo? That ice is not as strong. Ask Greg how he found that out. He knew that it might be a little soft, and he could feel it as his boot went through. He also knew that the water was only about one foot deep in that spot. Now we know that the little bit of ice is still on the thin side, but we likely could have guessed that one.

It is snowing today, and so far we have collected about three inches or so. I'd say that we are getting close to the point when we will be able to start grooming the trails for skiing. Early snow makes a perfect base for skiing all winter long. Time to pull out the skis, boots and poles and hit the trails.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Adding and Subtracting

Who knew that I could be a styrofoam artist? Certainly not me, but that is what I was thinking this afternoon as I was helping Greg. He had asked me to assist in some weather-proofing measures that involved styrofoam insulation and spray foam. When I asked for instructions, he just said to cut it to fit, and then stuff it in. Okay, I thought, how hard can that be?

Turns out, that can be a lot harder than one thinks. First of all, my chosen medium is generally fiber of some sort, be it yarn for knitting, or fabric for sewing. Even wool for spinning, but all three cases have the same thing in common. I am an artisan of addition, not one of subtraction. I recall a couple of years ago when I had a conversation with an artist about to sculpt a block of snow. I was saying that it is difficult for me to picture the parts to take away, rather than what to add. When I knit, I am adding yarn, row by row, to achieve the finished product. When I was cutting styrofoam today, I had to take away the parts that weren't needed. And those parts were very confusing for me.

The beauty of this type of work is not in the process or the's all in the foam. Once I got the knack of cutting out chunks, without worrying too much about fit, I would do my best to stuff the pieces into place. Often it meant removing said piece and trimming some more. But rather than worry about tightly fitted chunks, Greg reminded me that the foam would take care of the mistakes that I had made. Lo and behold, it worked. I've used spray foam a couple of times before, and I am not adept with it. So I let him have that job today. Once my pieces were jammed in, he came along with the magic yellow foam, and filled in all the gaps. As he did so, we could literally feel the cold drafts being choked out. Amazing! Just think how warm those pioneers would have been if they had been able to seal the cracks between the logs with foam, rather than moss or whatever else they used? It was satisfying to feel modern technology at work.

Just in time did we accomplish this task, for it is supposed to be below zero again tonight. Last night never actually made it there, with single digits above zero seen first thing in the morning. The lake was fairly calm, and as we worked, I checked its condition. The water near shore was showing more signs of icing up. The main body remains open. Tomorrow, snow is predicted, and winds from the south. If the night is cold and calm enough, maybe it will freeze over, but then we will be dealing with a layer of insulative snow on top of fresh ice. That doesn't make for the thick ice cover we need. It can also lead to early slush. But what does it matter, what I think? Mother Nature is in charge, and I'm just watching what she is up to.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Do Short Days Go By Faster?

The days are getting steadily shorter. The sunrise this morning was 7:36, and it set at 4:09. I actually only caught a brief glimpse of it anyway. I was at the dump, attempting to stuff old insulation into an already-overfilled canister. For a moment, the sun tried to shine through the clouds, giving me a quick look at its silhouette. That was all. Greg had suggested that I wait until after lunch (late already at 2:00) to go, but I didn't want to be there in the waning shadows. It's getting harder to see all the time. The little shreds of daylight can make a huge difference.

The old insulation and other assorted construction garbage are the result of a much-needed facelift to the bathroom at Diamond Willow. This marks the third year of a fall project in that cabin. Last year it was a new bedroom floor, and two years ago, I refinished the living room and kitchen floors. It's a good thing the cabin patiently waits for us throughout the year--as do all of you wonderful guests. Once again, we are trekking down to the wire on getting it done, but it's moving along nicely.

Something else that is moving along is the cooling off of the lake. Today we had lots of steam rising from the surface, and I saw a chunk or two of ice floating by. When I look at these photos, I can't help but feel cold, cold, cold. Until the lake freezes, the wind has an extra bite to it, filled with the dampness that will soon be trapped until spring. I suppose that I should be grateful for the little bit of moisture in the air. Winter around here is a pretty drying season. I go through several bottles of lotion. What a difference from summer, when the humidity is always too high for some people! At any rate, it is supposed to be well-below zero tonight, so if the wind calms down enough, perhaps we will see that white coat from shore to shore. I do hear it blowing still at this moment.....

As for the days going by faster, well, yes, I believe they do. It seems that when it is dark while we are having morning coffee, and dark long before dinner, the time for getting work accomplished is reduced greatly. Funny, though, there still are the same twenty-four hours in the day. I guess that I must be a daytime person, that's all. Good thing I don't live in Alaska!