Caretaker’s Log, Monday, March 23, 2015
12 weeks today.
Again, I'm up before eight o'clock.
When I go out to give the cat fresh water and food, I hear the yipping bark of coyotes. I can hear but cannot see them. The geese I also hear but do not see. Blessed are they that hear and do not see, I think to myself, rephrasing a bible verse.
I have my coffee, work a crossword, start the fire, and check the generator shed. I'm just finishing with posting a blog when I see Porgy and a second snowmobiler arrive. It's Porgy's friend Kip. Porgy has brought me more food, apples, bananas, rice crackers, cheese, tuna, and coveted cans of coconut milk. It's feast time again.
I serve them up some coffee and the banana bread—with disclaimers on the bread—they say it's good. While we’re sitting around, I show them the pictures of the wolves I'd seen. And they pop my wolf bubble by saying they look like extremely healthy coyotes. "You see a wolf," Porgy tells me. "And there'll be no mistaking it."
Then we go to the bridge to take the measurements that Porgy needs in order to build the new bridge when spring comes. I'm tasked with taking pictures and writing the measurements down.
Soon enough it's done. We walk around on top of the snow, hard as solid ground, to look at the way the river runs. "I wish the snow were like this all the time," I say. It's perfect for walking, for skiing, for snowmobiling.
Snow clouds roll in and it begins to snow. It's a perfect day.
Porgy is pleased that they are so far ahead of schedule. With so much time to do so many things, the guys are great enough to help me change the oil in the generator. This means Kip and I stand around while Porgy turns the valve to empty the oil out. I hand over tools and a container to catch the oil, find a new air filter, and get out paper towels. Whenever it's time to turn the generator on to heat up the oil and check the level that's also my job. Changing the oil in the generator sure is easy when someone else does it for me.
When that's done we go in and eat some lunch. These guys are perfect guests and have brought their lunches with them. I eat apple, cheese, and crackers.
While we're sitting there, I see the cat food stealing mouse out of the corner of my eye. I'm finally quick enough to get a picture of it.
After lunch, we go up to the dam on the snowmobiles. The guys hack and pound and hammer and shovel the thick ice away from around the valve’s rod and base. They had stopped on their way in and tried to turn the wheel valve. Porgy told me they weren't able to do it. "I hate to say this," I’d said, "but I'm glad you couldn’t do it." With all this ice, it's no wonder. There's no way I could have won out in a strength match against however many pounds of weight and freezing grip that is. "This is no job for a little girl," I say jokingly, perfectly content to watch and take pictures as they work chipping ice away.
"Just step back, ma'am, let the men in orange take care of this job," Porgy says, also joking. "We're manly men."
Once the space is free of all that ice, the wheel turns no problem. They get it opened up all the way and the water drains out of the intake pond. That's two big things crossed off my To Do list. And I got off easy. We walk all over the ice and then get out of there. On the way back, we stop off by the Tame Hydro pit and look at the area where the leak in the pipe probably is. There's an erosion path in the dirt. "When the rest of the snow melts this will point us right to the leak," Porgy says.
Then we go back to the Lodge. As the guys are putting away the hammers and chisels and bars, I say, "If you guys have another thirty minutes or so, I'll go inside and make up some cookies." Porgy had mentioned the cookies once or twice to Kip.
"We couldn't say no to that," Porgy says.
I go in and whip up a batch of cookies while they pack up their gear, put up all the tools, and then come in and relax for a bit.
Loring calls to check in. A bit later, Jessie calls.
"No wonder you can’t get anything done around here," Kip says. Only half kidding, I had mentioned how busy I was earlier when Porgy had teased me about not starting up the sauna or taking more trips across the backcountry up towards Sportsman's Ridge.
At 4:40, after coffee, cookies, and conversation they get up and leave.
I'm grateful that they came to visit.
There are dishes to wash, emails to send, pictures to upload, grandmothers to call, sisters to call back, and dinner to make. I don't sit down to write until almost nine o'clock. I put down 300 words and call it good for now.
I drink some rum and apple juice.
To wind down, I read for a while and then head upstairs.
It's been a good and full day.
Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I laze around in bed. No visitors are expected today.
I get the morning things going and head out to start the generator charge. It's snowing. A beautiful, snow globe shaken snow. I love it.
After a breakfast of banana and tahini, cheese and crackers, I go out and ski for an hour. The snow settles on my face and melts in six-sided uniqueness against the heat of my skin.
The cat is acting extra crazy. More rashly than usual, she darts in front of my feet nearly killing the both of us.
I take a bath. Wash my hair.
My mom calls and we catch up.
I go outside and check the generator. It still has a bit of time to run.
My dad calls and we catch up.
I turn off the generator.
I call my grandmother and we catch up.
It's still snowing.
I answer some emails.
I'm watching the snow as it gusts by at the encouraging hand of the wind. Suddenly, the wind stops dead and the flakes hover, still, like coming out of warp speed. And then the wind starts up again and we're off.
Weather time is at seven o'clock. 0.3 inches of snow.
I eat eggs and beans wrapped in lettuce and topped with guacamole for my second dinner.
I read in bed until my eyes protest. Then it's lights out.
Caretaker’s Log, Wednesday, March 25, 2015
I'm in bed about to get up when the phone rings. I grab my socks and clamber downstairs, but by the time I get to the kitchen they've hung up.
As I'm boiling water for coffee, the phone rings again. It's Loring checking on the weather, wondering if he and Dave will be able to come in tomorrow. Their trip is still dependent on if Dave is feeling well enough.
"Did you try to call earlier?" I ask.
"I did. But then I felt guilty about how early it was. For all I know you could stay up all night writing and like to sleep in."
He's pretty close on that, but I neither confirm nor deny my habits.
There are coyote tracks all over the yard. The morning clouds, thick with snow, are astounding. A gentle, friendly snow falls. It's as if it's falling more for aesthetics than anything else. I see an eagle, four geese, and a blackbird.
I have two cookies with my first cup of coffee. This was a good batch.
I sweep and mop the living room. While I wait for part of the floor to dry, I eat bananas and tahini for breakfast. I mop some more.
I finish cleaning the living room area. Get it all dusted and put back together again.
Then I sweep and mop the kitchen. While that floor dries, I change the sheets on my bed and get the dirty laundry folded up to take out to store in the summer laundry room until the washing machines are hooked back up.
I finish reading The Locked Room.
Jesse calls. She may have a summer job at the same ranch where I'll be working. She'll know in a couple days.
I finish the kitchen cleaning. Wash up the dishes.
I eat an apple, cheese, crackers, and cookies for a snack.
Phinehas calls. While we're talking the call waiting beeps. It's Loring calling to say that Dave is still not well. They will not be coming tomorrow. Next chance for a visit will be Monday. That is, if scheduling works out and the weather holds.
I go outside and walk around. In my boots. The snow is hard and perfect for trekking over. I feel like the world has opened up with possibility, with ease of maneuverability. I can go anywhere. The cat comes along. We explore the river’s edge, walk the way the coyotes had gone, follow the fence line, skirt the partially frozen Kinky Creek. The cat walks along the fence when she can. She follows behind me in the snow, meowing, when she can't. I needed the fresh air and to get out and stretch my legs. The cat needed it too.
I take a bath.
Phinehas calls again.
I record the weather.
I make tuna for dinner. As I'm setting the table I glance out the window and see the two coyotes crossing the field. The fence is no barrier for them and then they disappear into the red willows.
After I eat and clean the dishes up, I sit down and write. Finally getting past the point I've been stuck on for the past two days. That's progress.