Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It's Wnter!

Yesterday, we had the first skim of ice on our pond that lasted all day.

This morning, we woke to several inches of snow.

This created a blizzard of Black-capped Chickadees around my feeders. Don't you love the tail shot? And peeking in on the right hand edge is a Tufted Titmouse. They're a bit shy.

I'm really glad I don't have to go anywhere today. I'd love snow, if it wasn't for having to drive in it. I am a TOTAL WIMP when it comes to winter driving, and I live on a road that is a nightmare to get up and down. But on days like today when I get to photograph it, watch it come down while I write, and do some holiday cooking in peace with gentle music playing, yeah, I'm okay with snow.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Everything You Didn't Want to Know About my Septic System

First the furnace a few weeks ago, then last night the septic system. I was in bed about midnight, sound asleep, when I heard my husband yell at our oldest daughter, "Get out of the shower!" She'd just come home from college for the weekend (which means laundry and a long hot shower, first thing.) Well, the water from both was all spraying all over the cellar. I knew the tank didn't need pumping, so that meant another plug like the one I unplugged myself last summer.

So lying in bed after my husband and daughter had cleaned up the mess, I realized that if I didn't go out there right then and see what was going on, by the time I got home from school, it was going to be too late in the day to call anybody, and that would mean all weekend without being able to flush. Or shower. And since I have distant mermaid ancestry, if I don't get a shower every morning, well, it's really not going to be a good day.

So at two in the morning, I went outside and dug up the tank. (Hey, I'm a rugged lady. I write fiction. I work with high school kids. I can dig up a septic tank by flashlight!) I found the little square cover on my first try. (I'm also a dowser, so no surprise there. I don't know how it works, but it's an awfully handy talent for this kind of thing.) I pried the lid up. Sure enough, the old iron pipe was well plugged again. Holding the light in one hand and a long stick in the other, I spent ten minutes of real unpleasantness getting absolutely no results.

So, sputtering, I went back to bed and lay there until the alarm went off at 5:30. Shower time. A couple weeks ago, I had several days of icy cold ones. Today I had a warm one, but I had to keep turning the water off between each soaping cycle, so to speak. And in a cold house, that got chilly fast. Urg.

We called our favorite septic people (I went to high school with the owners) and a nice guy showed up ten minutes ago and unplugged us.The system is working fine, just too much paper going down. Ah, teenage daughters. Oh, well, it could have been the leach field. And now I'm happily doing laundry and looking forward to a long, hot shower to make up for this morning.

But you know, it was kind of nice being outside at two o'clock in the morning in late fall all by myself. Orion was beautiful and sparkly, it was perfectly quiet, and no Bigfoot lurked anywhere. Heck, if he'd come by, I'd have handed him the shovel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


All right, so I've always been a little freaked out by Bigfoot.

It started when I was a kid and saw one of those quasi-documentaries about mystery creatures. I was mainly watching it because it had a segment about Vermont's own lake monster, Champ, for whom I've watched diligently for years. But for some reason, the footage of Bigfoot really chilled me. Bigfoot doesn't live in lakes. He lives forests, and so do I. And that was enough to give me nightmares of a fleeting black shape in the twilight, especially at the far edges of headlight beams, triggered, I'm sure, by a segment in the film about a man who spent a terrifying night trapped alone in his car while Bigfoot prowled outside.

Now, I haven't really worried about Bigfoot a lot lately, I have to admit. But yesterday at school, a student showed me some new video footage of that old, familiar, dark, menacing shape. I was real cool about it, and went home and made sure my doors were locked and that all the cats were in. And nothing happened. No otherworldly sounds in the night, no sense of being watched, no glimpses of anything at the edge of the light.

Until this morning.

I leave for school about 6:30, and this time of year, it's dark enough for high beams. I headed down my narrow dirt road in my trusty little car, dodging potholes, wondering what the kids had in store for me today, and trying to find my phone in all my various pockets. It wasn't there. I was getting a vulnerable feeling just as I came to the bend, which is sharp, left-handed, and slopes downhill. And as my headlights swung around and lit up the darkness, I saw it.

A black, shadowy shape, hunched over, running across the road on two legs right in front of me.

I slammed on my brakes.

The shape came to a halt, turned, and looked at me. I could see its eyes, bright spots in the shadow. Yes, I screamed.

It was frozen, unmoving.

I stared at it in terror.

It still didn't move.

And then I realized that the shadowy creature really looked an awful lot like a shadow. The shadow of the one tree limb over hanging the road just ahead of me that still, for some reason, had leaves. A shadow cast by my high beams. I eased off my brakes, my car rolled forward, and the creature slowly made its way off to the side of the road, its bright eyes fading as my headlights moved off two glistening pebbles.

Heart pounding, my throat burning from my scream, I drove on down the road.  And I don't care whether it was a shadow or not -- you could not have paid me enough to get out of my car until I was safely in the school parking lot. And then I dashed inside, safe in a crowd of students who would be much more tender and juicy mouthfuls than me.

Happy Halloween a day late, everyone!