Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bear Tracks and very cold temperatures

Anyone who lives around here should be well aware of the erratic weather as of late. For those who don't, here's a brief summary: November and December have been unusually cold for the most part. Last week was unusually warm, and it rained every day for a week. Then on the solstice it went from 60 degrees one day to 9 degrees the next night.

On the 60 degrees day I went for a nice walk up "Sapling Mountain," looking for oyster mushrooms and found instead some really nicely defined bear tracks in the mud. It was actually a stretch of mud that contained tracks of bear, dog, raccoon, human and deer. Two days later, after an intense Winter Solstice night of a great bonfire in some strong ass wind and then a 1:00 in the morning (9 degrees) adventure wrestling with my awning so it wouldn't blow away (it felt like a long lost tribe of sasquatch was yanking and banging on the Airstream, but it was only the wind), I went back up "Sapling Mountain" with my camara to see if I could find the tracks again and document them. I had a beautiful and painfully cold walk. I found the tracks, but the freeze made them less pronounced. I will post the photos anyways, along with some others I took on my winter walk.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Holidays from the former Hot Springs Used Car Parking Lot

This scene struck a special chord in my American heart. The photo doesn't really capture the true essence of the display. There was a pile of trash in the background that you cannot see, and notice the empty plastic cup on top of the No Parking sign. It was a comically empty and kind of dismal scene. This winter has seemed really menacing and dismal particularly in Hot Springs so far. The weather has been cold and wet for the most part. The used car parking lot was closed (good thing but has an empty depressing feel). The pub closed upon the sudden death of the owner. Downtown Hot Springs is somewhat void of livliness right now. But there's always the good ole home team try. I appreciate that lonely Christmas tree.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tales of White Nite: Part 2 of the Screech Owl Assistance

Monday morning I went to check on the screech owl, and I couldn't find him. I looked in the worm tray (see previous post) and found that one of the huge, arnica and hypericum laced nightcrawlers had been eaten. I looked all around on the ground and couldn't find the owl. Then I almost stepped on him. He flew lowly and slowly across the road and landed somewhere on the ground. I went over there to find him because I thought it was unsafe for him to be sitting on the ground for a long time. I looked and looked and couldn't find him. Then I almost stepped on him again- he sure can camoflauge! This time he flew across the river and landed in a branch in a sycamore tree. He still wasn't flying very strongly. I made a mental note of which tree he was in and went to work.

Jenna happened to be going to Newport that day for other reasons, and I asked her and her caregiver to stop at the pet store and buy me a mouse to feed the owl. They did, but they didn't get back with it until after dark. I went ahead and went over to the owl spot just before dark to try to find him and check on him. I put on by big tall rubber boots and forded the river. I couldn't find him anywhere. About that time I got a call on my cell phone from Jenna's caregiver who was frantic. It turns out the mouse was chewing its way through the carrier box in the car as they were on their way home from Newport. Jenna tried to poke it back in the box with her finger, and it bit her. They were both kind of freaking out. I told them I would see them at the house in a few minutes.

Well, I went over to Jenna's house to retrieve the naughty mouse, even though I had not seen the owl. When I got there, the mouse had been tied up in a grocery bag and chucked in the outdoor trash can so it wouldn't escape. I got the bag out of the trash can, and opened it up and HARK! There were 2 mice in there. I guess the pet store lady threw in a freebee... I decided to put them in a big plastic storage bin with some bedding and take them to the spot I had last seen the owl, in case he was close by hiding. That way he would have some easy food- you see, the storage bin was such that a small injured owl could get in, but the mice could not get out.

I forded the river again, this time in the dark, and placed the bin of mice on the ground under the sycamore. In the morning I returned early and forded the river a
3rd time to check the situation. Both mice were still in the bin, but one had died (froze to death?) and the other was fine. I decided the owl was most likely recovered and gone and I retrieved the living mouse and left.

That is how I ended up with a new pet. I have named her (I think it's a she) White Nite, and I have plans to let these people feed her to their snake next week, but I am afaid I might be getting attached. You see, I like to talk pretty to White Nite and pet her with my finger, and yesterday I gathered the gumption to pick her up. It was fun. Her seemingly favorite pasttimes are: eating and napping. I don't know what I'll end up doing, but for now she is sharing the Airstream with me. SM thinks I should build her a replica of the Airstream to live in.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Screech Owl Assistance

This morning I was driving to Jenna's house, and I noticed a little red screech owl on the ground on the side of the road. I pulled over to check on it, and it weakly flew up to a branch. He looked at me long and hard, and I could see that his eye was messed up. He was probably hit by a car. I remembered that a friend of a friend is a screech owl rehab expert. I called and got "C's" phone number, and called him. He told me that the owl most likely has a concussion, and that he has a 50-50 chance of survival. It is a good thing that the wings aren't broken. I shouldn't try to capture him because that would be more traumatizing to the fragile bird than helpful. He said that the best thing I could do would be to bring the owl some live food that couldn't get away so that when he is ready to eat, he will have something easy. He suggested worms, crickets or mice.

Later in the morning, we went to C&H bait shop and bought some nightcrawlers. We talked to our homeopathic doctor friend who suggested that we crush arnica and hypericum homeopathic pellets and lace the worms with the medicine. Jenna used her mortar and pestel to do just that.

I clamped the worms with clothes pins so they couldn't escape, laced them with homeopathic medicine for trauma and put them in a shallow basket.

Then Jenna and I drove back to the spot by the Laurel River where the owl was. I found the spot by remembering that it was by this sign.

He was still there, and I think his sillouete against the sky is beautiful. He watched me put the food down, so I hope he eats it soon.

I will check on him again tomorrow morning, and if he is gone, that will be a good sign. Good luck owl!

My Dear Friend, Her Beautiful Offspring, and a Creepy Pink Music Box Doll

Monday, December 1, 2008

Airstream Update

Today is December 1. It is snowing for the 4th time this winter. Winter came on this year with a relentless bang, and it hasn't really let up. I am still taking bucket baths outside with rain water heated on the stove. Bucket bathing in the snow was quick and exciting. Soon I will purchase a tankless on demand water heater and rig a hot outdoor shower. I actually talked with a friend this morning who has done almost this very thing, and he gave me specific details about the project. (YAY!) This morning I woke up and went outside to use the bathroom and realized the Airstream's awning was weighted down with snow on top. So after I came back from the outhouse I pulled out the ladder and got up there with a flat rake and scraped the snow off so the weight wouldn't cause the whole thing to cave in. Since it has been raining and snowing relatively a lot, the ground has gotten really muddy and squishy which is making it hard to park near the camper. I want to get some more gravel.
Anyways, this morning I was wondering what the heck I'm doing living down there in tha Airstream in the winter. But so far, it's working OK. You better believe I will write about it when I get a hot shower.

Would have won the game...