24 November 2004

Cast Iron Warmth

It's been a while since our last post - we've been pretty busy with visitors, preparations for visitors, and extended "crunch" hours at work. (Before work Wednesday morning, I had already been in the office 30 hours this week.) Hopefully things will slow down a bit in the next few weeks - work should, now that the deadline is met. But time always seems to compress around the holidays...

After much anticipation (and cold evenings), our new propane stove has finally been installed! Now that the early mornings hover around 20F, the stove is a welcome addition and much preferable to the electric baseboard heaters that we relied on before. The stove is from Vermont Castings; even way out here, people stil recognize that New Englanders know how to deal with cold best.

Max is obsessed with the stove. He is smart enough to realize that it is really hot (and therefore shouldn't touch it), but that doesn't stop him from getting as close to it as he can while it is on. On several occasions, he has disappeared only to be discovered underneath the stove. Crazy cat.

Max, enjoying the view (and warmth)!

A few years back we decided to stay home by ourselves for Thanksgiving; it was the first time for either of us. Now it's time to take the next step and host it ourselves. We're hosting 6 family members for Thanksgiving weekend this year, for a total of 8 for dinner. Let's hope we still all like each other after spending a weekend together in the same house!

Happy Thanksgiving!

- Mike (& Corinne)

10 November 2004

Burn, Baby, Burn!

As one of our astute blog readers recently pointed out (we have readers!), there are some definite benefits to having all of the leaves fall off of the trees at the same time: you only have to rake once! We spent Sunday working outside, raking leaves and planting bulbs for spring.

But with that many leaves, what to do with them? The following exchange is entirely fictional:

City boy:  So where do people around here take their yard waste?
Local:  Yard waste? You mean them there leaves and sticks and stuff?
CB:  Yeah - does the county take them to convert them to mulch or something like that?
L:  The county? Why would you give it to them? Are you some kinda big-government Democrat or somethin'? If ya want, I can bring over my wood-chipper and we can shred 'em; or throw 'em out back with the voles; but if you really wanna have fun, just burn it!

When we first moved to the area, I was a bit confused by all of the "Burn Ban" signs we saw. They were everywhere, and that's all they said. People in a city wouldn't dream of burning their yard waste; and if they did, their neighbors would call 911. But out here in the country, that seems to be one of the primary modes of disposal for yard waste out here. You don't even need a permit of any sort. As long as a "burn ban" isn't in effect - primarily enacted during the dry summer months - just burn away!

So after the raking was done (or almost done), I built my first burn pile. It took a bit to get the hang of it, but once I did, we were smokin'. Literally.

Burn, Baby, Burn! These burned for about 7-8 hours; in the end, two had to be put out before they had run out of fuel. And there are still three large piles of leaves on the other end of the yard, just waiting for a match.

On a related note: Betsy and Lane, aka "the landlords" (who are really great), stopped by on Saturday to drop off our new propane heating stove. This stove replaces the old wood-burning stove that they removed shortly after we moved in. The propane stove will, as they put it, "keep out the bugs and snakes that came in with the wood." It will be another week or so before it is installed, and we can't wait! It's getting cold!

- Mike (& Corinne)

07 November 2004

The Day the Leaves Fell Off

After living in New England for many years, it's hard to imagine a fall without brilliant colors. Since the Pacific Northwest is not known for its fall color, we were preparing for a boring fall. So we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Columbia Gorge has quite a few deciduous trees mixed in with the evergreens. The autumn colors are not quite as impressive as some areas in NE; but on the other hand, we didn't see too much color living in Somerville, while we pass countless forests every day on our drive to work here. Less brilliant, but more often.

One of the nice things about our house is that there are three 100+ year old walnut trees right in front, providing shade from the sun in summer and blocking the house from the road (which is about 75yds away or so.) But now that fall is here, the trees were slowly losing their leaves, leaving the house a bit naked. The leaves have been falling slowly for the last two weeks or so, but the trees were still mostly full. That is, until Thursday...

It has been getting gradually colder; 30F would not be an unusual overnight temp, though it still gets up to 50F during the day. When we awoke Thursday morning, I checked the outdoor thermometer to discover that it had reached its coldest overnight temperature yet - 22F, plenty cold for a hard frost. Looking out the window, you would almost think that it was raining, only the "flakes" were orange and shaped like leaves. When we left the house at 8am for work, Corinne stopped to take a few photos.

Thursday, 8am. The trees are still pretty well populated. (You can see the frost on the field in the background.)

We came home at lunch that day (since we left our packed lunch on the floor next to the door), and were shocked - SHOCKED - at the sight.

Thursday, Noon. Hey - where did all the leaves go?

In approximately 4 hours, all of the leaves fell off. I guess that means winter is around the corner...

- Mike (& Corinne)