location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
Gretchen arrived at the cabin in the late morning, having stopped at the Honest Weight Food Co-op (where she's now a member) to get things like bagels and produce and to put about 20 miles of range back into its battery. It was a cloudy, dreary day, a good one for curing portland cement but not so much for sitting on a dock reading a book (the main reason Gretchen goes to the cabin). But Gretchen wanted to walk down to the lake just to say hello, so I hiked down there with her. We were there only a couple minutes before turning around and hiking back. As always, I found a stone on the walk back that I carried with me for use on my "completing the top of the north retaining wall" project. That project now looks something like the Great Wall of China or Hadrian's Wall in miniature as it snakes from peak to peak of the boulders placed in a giant L to support the septic field northwest of the cabin.
Gretchen mentioned something about how I should probably put portland cement in the joints between all the sheets of Durock, something I'd been reluctant to do due to the color mismatch between Durock and portland cement. But she insists we will eventually be painting that wall, and that this color mismatch doesn't matter. So I mixed up another big batch of portland cement and proceeded to "spackle" all such gaps. I also added some to the outside of the basement entrance bulkhead in places where my application of cement looked a little thin (as evidenced by the visible pattern of mesh tape).
Then I undertook a massive erosion-control effort to stabilize the mound I'd built yesterday near the basement entrance bulkhead. This mound was already somewhat stabilized by several long beech logs I'd staked in place. But east of the mound, which forms a path to the area under the east decks, needed more stabilization. And I also was concerned that sand at the top of the mound might be washed away by rain. So gathered many buckets of fallen leaves from the nearby surface and used these to cover the naked sand in the places I was concerned about. It's still early in the season and not many autumnal leaves have fallen yet, so the leaves I was collecting were nearly a year old and formed a compressed layer that, to some extent, had knitted together to make a crude paperlike material (something I've found useful when I've needed, say, toilet paper). To hold this paper-like leafy layer onto the sand, I gathered many sticks, some of them old an half-rotten, and lay the sticks down on the leaves parallel to the terrain's contour. I'd created similar erosion barriers last year, and they'd seemed to work okay. I also transplanted five or six ferns in a line near the bluestone path at the top of the mound to further hold the sand in place.
Meanwhile Gretchen had baked a homemade pizza using pizza crusts she'd just bought at the co-op. Originally the plan had been to make pizza tonight for my relatives Carol and Christine, who were driving up today after visiting my brother Don and my mother Hoagie in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. But Carol has trouble sticking to a schedule, and they hadn't been able to leave the Staunton area as early as expected. Now it was looking like they wouldn't get to our cabin until at least 11:00pm, well after dinner time.
Christine kept sending updates from the road, and as their expected hour of arrival drifted ever deeper into the night, I found ways to entertain myself (since I wanted to stay up until they arrived).
I'd set up the live-capture traps in the basement, which Gretchen had remembered to bring with her. One of these was a metal box that could capture many live mice without needing to be reset. The mice were ignoring that one completely. But they kept triggering the small plastic traps activated by rocking under the mouse's weight, which then causes a hatch to close and lock. Unfortunately, there were never any mice in these triggered traps. I kept going down to the basement to check and reset them, and in the process I kept seeing mice doing things. One tried to go into the boiler but was thwarted by my coil of wire. I saw another expertly scramble up the metal legs of a glass-topped desk and then somehow pull himself up onto the surface, which meant that mice could still get to the bags of birdseed I'd thought were safe there. This meant that I had to move all the birdseed upstairs (where mice hopefully haven't been able to go).
I then did some tinkering in the basement, pulling the wire for another electrical outlet through a few ceiling joists and putting the legs back on that couch I'd brought up from Hurley weeks ago.
Eventually Gretchen went to bed, and I continued tinkering (and drinking booze) in the basement, checking my Chromebook periodically with updates from Christine. Not long before my relatives arrived, I managed to catch two deer mice, both of which I took around the back of the cabin to release near the Bilco doors. I had the feeling the mice were feeling a bit frantic due to the absence of routes back into the cabin, and when I had the light on in the front, I saw one come bounding up the steps to the front door. Perhaps they'd had success getting in through that door in the past, since we often leave it wide open when we're around.
After removing the two mice I captured, I witnessed another mouse in the basement who then triggered the traps a couple times, but I was unable to catch him. I also heard what sounded like gnawing in the wall behind the washing machine in the first floor bathroom closet.
Carol and Christine arrived at around 1:00am in Carol's Mazda, which she'd driven all the way from wherever she lives in Alaska. She was towing a teardrop-shaped travel trailer she'd built from a kit onto a metal towing frame. With Carol and Christine was Christine dog Olivia, who is something of a Ramona doppleganger (though she's thinner and sleeker). Like Ramona, Olivia doesn't like other dogs, so I wasn't even able to let Neville meet her. Despite out attempts to keep the dogs apart, there was a tense moment when Christine had Olivia on leash at the bottom of the steps to the front door and Neville and then Ramona came bursting through the pet door. I was between the two sets of dogs with a bag of Chex-Mix in my hand (which Christine was using as doggy treats). The bag spilled and Chex-Mix went everywhere, and I was able to briefly negotiate a truce between Olivia and my dogs by rapidly handing out Chex-Mix nuggets.
Carol is so excited about her travel trailer that she insisted on sleeping in it tonight after first getting it somewhat level. Gretchen (who woke up in all the commotion) and I decided it was best to put Christine and Olivia in the upstairs bedroom, far away from our dogs. Christine was freaked out about how nervous Olivia was being, especially after she decided to mark one of our rugs with her urine. "She never has accidents!" Christine declared. "That was no accident," I chuckled. But eventually everyone calmed down and went to sleep. For Olivia, this was helped by playing the radio I listen to while doing chores. Apparently Olivia likes the quirky oldies station WFNY nearly as much as I do.
Releasing a somewhat-reluctant deer mouse tonight.