forms of the red eft
Sunday, May 15 2022
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of rain, which was completely unexpected (though in the Adirondacks, rain should never be a surprise). I had run out, roll up the windows on the Bolt, bring in some lumber and the table router, as well as a bag of thinset mortar. Fortunately, it hadn't been raining for very long.
The rain had stopped by this morning and it would be another sunny day. I returned again to the lake in hopes of coming upon some morning wildlife, but the only thing of any note was a thick fog on the lake that obscured the distant shore but dissipated as I sat there watching. It was just as well no creatures stumbled upon me while I was there, as my camera reported that its battery was "exhausted." The only wildlife I saw were a few red efts along the trail, evidently brought out by last night's rain. These were the first I'd seen anywhere this season, including back in Hurley.
Back at the cabin, I planted the plants I'd bought yesterday and then did some more landscaping. The yard northwest of the cabin, a flat area where the septic field is buried, ends with a steep grade partially-retained by a line of massive boulders. This area has suffered from erosion, with a number of small gullies beginning to form. To keep them from growing, today I gathered moss and bits of forest turf that I then installed on the upper-ends of each of the nascent gullies in an effort to slow the runoff. To fully deal with the situation will likely take man such transplantations. But putting some plant life in all of the existing gullies felt like an accomplishment. It also looks good; the gulleys holding the backyard's only living green plants make it look like a scale model of the Great Western Desert, where the only trees line the shores of the region's only rivers.
Later this morning, I implemented some new features in my Moxee watchdog device, the thing that restarts the cellular hotspot whenever it enters a state that would normally require a human to fix. That functionality has worked great, but for some reason that device routinely fails to log weather data when it checks in to my RandomSprocket backend. I hoped to fix this by making it so the timing of the updates moves around depending on whether or not its last attempt failed. I also wanted to log every time the watchdog is forced to restart the Moxee, and to do that, I needed to install NTP (Network Time Protocol) libraries so I could tag these attempts with a valid timestamp. I managed to get all of this working, though because the restart log and the weather data I transmitted in the same data packet to RandomSprocket, none of that data is actually being stored, because there is something inherently unreliable about the way the ESP8266 transmits this data. (Interestingly, among my three ESP8266s, one transmits the data very reliably and one almost not at all, even though they're all essentially running the exact same code.)
Next I turned my attention to building the door for the upstairs bathroom medicine cabinet. I'd already routed out the maple "picture frame" wood that would form a stable frame for this door. I just needed to cut these into mitred pieces, build the frame, and the fill in the middle with planks of shiplap pine. I tried using my massive mitre saw to cut the framing, but it immediate tripped the Sol-Ark inverter, confirming that the only way to use that saw at the cabin is to run the generator. Fortunately, I only needed to make a few cuts. To hold the frame together, all I used was a single finishing nail (cut off because because it was a little too long) at each corner, along with some Gorilla glue. With that finished, I then had to cut the shiplap, all of which needed to be routed along the edges in order to produce the thinnest door possible. The results were tidy but also just a bit rustic, as the shiplap was full of knots and other imperfections.
At that point Gretchen bemoaned how far our cabin was from the lake. Had we had a cabin actually on a lake, she said, she'd want to go for an impulsive paddle. But the lake is 900 feet away. But then she said, "that's it, let's go!" And so we went. The dogs, who just keep getting lazier and lazier, actually decided to come along too. And we even managed to launch the canoe from the tree dock with both dogs on board. (Ramona is always happy to go, but this time Neville seemed to know that the alternative was being left behind.) We paddled out to our private outflow bay, a large triangular pond on its own, where we saw dozens of the speckled green aquatic adult forms of red efts. As we paddled clockwise around the lake, a pair of mallards flew in from the marshy arm that runs inland from the lake's north shore. There were a few people over on Pyotr's part of the lakeshore, so we steered well clear of that and returned to our tree dock from the east. At some point Gretchen saw an enormous beaver pass beneath our boat. It was Madyson, and she appeared at the surface some distance away and slapped her tail. Our dogs got all excited, so we paddled hastily back to the tree dock before their craziness could cause us to capsize.
On the walk back to the cabin, it suddenly occurred to me that I'd made the bathroom cabinet door too big. The intention was for the shelves on either side of the central part to not be covered by a door, and yet I'd just made a door to cover the whole thing. I suppose I can use it temporarily. But that's not my vision. This is the kind of mistake that's easy to make, particularly when you segment a task into steps across many weeks without any written plans (as was the case here).
After cleaning up the cabin, we loaded up the car and started the drive back to Hurley, starting with about 189 miles in the battery and seeing that climb to as high as 196 miles as we we approached the Mohawk. Along the way, Gretchen listened in to an interview of our friend Hope on a podcast produced by an influential local writer with a quavering old-woman voice. Gretchen likes to participate in such things just to stay part of the scene. In the podcast, Hope told the story of how an elderly aunt at an adult living facility starved herself to death as a way of escaping the dreary isolation of the pandemic.
Gretchen paddling at the front of our canoe while the dogs (Neville and Ramona) ride in the middle.
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