dividing up the deer leg at the lake cabin
Thursday, December 23 2021
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
I got up at a little before 8:00am this morning and started the day in the usual way, using only battery power to start the woodstove, ignite the gas for coffee water, and dick around on my laptop. Today was a workday, but it being the day before the long Christmas weekend, the stress was off. I mostly just ran and re-ran the Taxinator, hoping to fix a bug but getting a series of crashes that only deepened the mystery.
The solar installation crew started arriving at 8:00am, causing the dogs to lose their minds. I eventually let them out to meet the guys, who all seemed to be dog people. But then more of the crew arrived, and the dogs started barking again. If it hadn't been for Neville's constant barking, it would've been a lovely morning in the great room: the fire in the woodstove was burning hot, the sun (low as it was in the sky) was shining brightly through the south-facing windows, and the internet was working well. But the solar guys kept staging panels and climbing up between the low and high deck on the east end of the house, and every time Neville would erupt into barking. Ramona, well, she had a lot more sense than Neville and had totally acclimated to strangers climbing around just outside the windows.
I felt bad for the guys having to work outside, as temperatures were in the mid-teens. There wasn't much of a wind blowing, but having to fuss around with nuts, bolts, cables, mounting racks, and whatever else goes into solar panel construction must not be pleasant when you're perched on a steep roof and wearing gloves.
There were also some more fortunate guys working down in the basement hooking up the inverter, battery (it weighs 600 pounds) and cut-off switch. I'd noticed, by the way, that the inverter (manufactured by Sol-Ark) had a religious slogan inside its hatch: "Soli deo gloria." If that's just a sticker, it's unlikely to survive the warranty period.
In addition to working leisurely in the remote workplace, I did some puttering around the cabin, unloading the Prius and repairing some of the accumulated damage to the furniture hauled up from Washington.
Periodically the dogs would need to go outside to poop or piss, and on one of Ramona's outdoor forays she discovered the deer leg that had been on the upper deck since I stole it from Neville a few weeks ago. (I don't know how it found its way down to the ground; either a varmint managed to climb up there and get it or one of the solar installation guys tossed it down.) I took Neville for a walk out to Woodworth Lake Road and back, leaving Ramona to gnaw on the leg. But then when we got back, I was worried Ramona would get cold out there working on her leg project. She came in briefly with the leg, but Neville plopped down right next to her on the dog bed and wouldn't stop staring at it (this was perhaps understandable, as he'd been the one who had originally found it). But this was causing Ramona too much stress, and she wanted to take the leg back outside. The solar installation guys didn't seem to know what to make of drama, but when it was clear to them that I was allowing them to chew on the leg, it clicked for them what I was doing when, for example, I used the splitting maul to cleave the leg into pieces so Ramona and Neville could work on separate pieces.
Ramona is faster at processing bone than Neville is, and before long Ramona had entirely eaten her part of the leg (which had consisted mostly of skin and bone). At that point I decided to make a run into Johnstown to get some supplies. I needed slightly-bigger screws for the refrigerator's door hinges, as the old ones seemed to be pulling out and causing a gap in the seal, as well as copper stub-outs for the PEX in the upstairs bathroom. I took Ramona with me, leaving Neville at the cabin to gnaw on his portion of the deer leg.
Happily, most people seemed to be wearing masks at the Noble Ace hardware. There was a little coughing here and there that made me want to avoid certain people and the space they'd just occupied. One of the employees there who has been helpful in the past was being a bit of a pest when I was trying to find large sheet metal screws, but he came in handy when I needed the PEX stub-outs. I also got four 48 inch one-by-twelve planks, one of the few kinds of lumber they keep on hand.
On the way back, I stopped at the Price Chopper supermarket to buy some impulse-purchases. It being the eve of Christmas Eve, the place was crowded. Fortunately, about 95% of the people in there were wearing masks, suggesting that either the New York State mask mandate is working or that only a tiny fraction of people in this very red part of New York are still getting their covid advice from Fox & Friends.
Back at the cabin, all the solar installers were gone. I went down to the basement to see what state things were left in. All the mess had been cleaned up and everything seemed to be wired up, but nothing was on. Gretchen sent a message saying that everything was done but the system still needed to be calibrated, something that would have to happen during daylight (or perhaps when the sun is out). I called AJ, the chief installer, and he basically said the same thing, meaning the solar stuff wouldn't be working until Monday, after his shorter variant of the long Christmas weekend.
Before dark, I drove the Prius up the driveway a little way with my big 19 inch Kobalt battery-powered chainsaw to a large (by the modest standards of the second-or-third-growth forest) fallen white ash I'd seen, and proceeded to buck it into pieces. Using the the Prius to bring those back to the cabin was much more efficient than using a backpack, and, once split, I was easily able to completely fill the indoor firewood rack with wood. Unfortunately, this wood wasn't as dry as I'd hoped, but it can be dried on the top of the woodstove before being burned.
Somewhat earlier in the day, Gretchen had wanted to talk to me directly, which is always an indication of something ominous. In this cases, it turned out that Sarah the Vegan's good friend Rebecca had recently tested positive for coronavirus, and Sarah herself wasn't feeling well. Where this had Gretchen spooked was that Sarah had hung out with Kate, and Gretchen and Kate and gotten together for dinner a few days ago. And now Powerful was coming back from the hospital. The question was: should I stay at the cabin through Christmas so Gretchen could better isolate on the chance (and it seemed small to me) that she had been exposed? I wasn't sure whether that was necessary. I'd told Gretchen to get a rapid-test so she could better ascertain her likelihood of being infectious. In the meantime, I agreed she should mainly stay away from Powerful and wear a KN95 mask whenever on the same floor with him.
By this phase of the evening, I was in full-on chillax mode. I cooked some rigatoni pasta I'd impulse-purchased at the Price Chopper, ate some cannabis, drank booze, and consumed a variety of somewhat-mindless web-based entertainment.
All but one of the solar panels installed. That last one is over the hole through the roof deck where the wires run.
Neville on the long driveway out to Woodworth Lake Road today.
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