No cabernet

Cider making

Our big activity today: squeezing apples aka cider-making. Which is far more than that.

The neighbors have a magic hand-operated machine that chips up the apples (circular motion, like a steering wheel), collects the chips in a cylindrical barrel lined with a stout, fabric filter. Then, with another circular motion on a different plane, we cranked down the press, squeezing the juice out through the cracks in the barrel, into the tray, and out the V-cut into the pan below. (I’m not sure why this particular batch was so foamy-bubbly.)

That brings in the next phase: filter and final bottling. We have special fabric filters (old sheeting) stretched across large funnels, and anchored with clothes pins. We pour the fresh juice through, which involves some fussing to get it all through (sediment blocks the filters, sl-o-w-ing the flow), and into a glass gallon jug. We transfer from that through the funnel (without the filter) to the final vessels, plastic jugs suitable for freezing. Long winters you know.

Use the hose outdoors to clean the fabric, wring, and reset on the funnels.

I was on the pouring operation. The Guru ended up on the apple loading and cranking and squeezing part of the operations.

Since it was raining, we did this in the commodious garage. Since it was cool, we didn’t have to watch out for busy and sometimes sated yellow jackets.

We took a break about two-thirds of the way through to have home-made potato soup and pasta (separately), topped off by home-made caramel corn. Living large!

What I didn’t mention was the prep work: collecting the apples, washing them. The apple-loaders picked through them, and selected from the various containers to make the blend.

Now, through the long winter, these households will have some fresh cider as a pick-me-up. We took a quart; it may last a few hundred miles.

Time to leave (almost)

Dawn few leaves

Heavy white frost this morning, abetted by the droplets remaining from yesterday’s rain. The grass crunched underfoot. The wind the last few days has brought down many of the leaves, and we can see the dawn breaking relatively easily.

Barrel ice skim

There was even a skim of ice on the rain barrel. Thin, but still.

More evidence that it’s time to think about leaving. Sigh.


Fairy ring

During a break in the weather (more wind than rain, but none of it particularly pleasant), we went down to the beach. This dark green arc indicates a fairy ring, and the fungi’s special tenticles makes the grass darker (although some types kill the grass). I love the red of the apples and the gold and brown of the leaves superimposed on the green, both light and dark.

Beach pano

Panos require a lot of work by the processor, and even more so when moving water is involved. Still, this image looks both normal and spooky to me.

No service

Soldier in green

We ask our military folk to do difficult, repeated tours in distant, dangerous places. And now investigative journalists say the Army’s own records show tens of thousands have been given irresponsible mental health care, and well over 20K have been dismissed under conditions that deny them retirement and other benefits.

The figures show that since January 2009, the Army has “separated” 22,000 soldiers for “misconduct” after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health problems or TBI. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement and health care benefits that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge.

Read or listen to the full NPR story I heard here. Terrible. I was sick hearing this.

* This also refers to our phone service for much of the day.

Another beautiful autumn day

Early day sun

Today I caught the sun just after it crested the horizon for a different effect. Still orange-gold.

Log splitter

Here’s the splitter that has been, under the Guru’s control, helping us convert more of the huge pine to firewood. Thanks to the neighbors for the loan. This one is on a trailer carriage, and is very sturdy. Note the hearing protection. The 8-horse Briggs and Stratton is noisy, and the operator has to stand right over it.


Lake thin orange layer

The orange layer this morning was squeezed by the clouds, and more golden that previous mornings. Still pretty, though.

Frosted leaves CU

Another light frost, spotty. These leaves were wet when the temps dropped, and became rimed…

Black shroom

…as did this mushroom. However, its high-moisture tissues mean that it will not survive much longer.



On the other hand, I also found a dandelion bloom!


Firewood stacked

Orange dawn like the other day…nothing like yesterday’s precip. A great omen.

This ushered in a turn to outdoor chores. Of course, it got overcast and drizzled once or twice before committing to sunshine about 1pm (only sprinkling briefly twice after that).

Today’s number one outdoor chore: putting the kindly loaned gas log splitter through its paces (sorta). The Aldo Leopold comments fit. There are so many steps to getting wood out of a tree and into a fire.

Already completed: the growing of the tree; the felling of the tree; the cutting of the trunk into shorter lengths. That’s where we quit on one of the substantial logs.

Today’s steps…. First, move stout columns of wood to the splitting deck on the machine. Activate the hydraulic arm that pushes the wood against the wedge, causing the splitting. Do this with special care so fingers are not crushed. Open the press. Realign the wood and re-wedge until the pieces are the desired size, tossing them aside to open the jaw and load new pieces. Pick up the new pieces of firewood and walk them around to the other side of the cottage and stack them…with some care (some air spaces, not too much).

I was happy to do the walking-stacking, and let the Guru operate the machinery. Wearing ear protectors (so proud of him).

If you’re lucky, step back and enjoy the aesthetics of the stacked wood against the sunlight on the grove.

All-day rain

LakeMich shore

An all-day rain amounts to another personality in your living space, even if it is outdoors and you are not.

Seeking to recover a bit of balance, we headed out on a bit of a drive and a bit of a groc-store run. Down by the big lake to the south, Michigan.

We stopped at a pullover, which really is a section of the old road, when it was routed closer to the shore. We could hear the waves breaking not far to the west, but right here there was an island buffer, creating a placid bay, our distant vision concealed by heavy fog. A few years back when we last stopped here, the lake levels were lower, and we walked out to that “island” on dry rock. It was then the lake edge. How times change.

I even tried a wiggle picture (mini-video) here, hoping to catch the small movements of the water among the vegetation; I’ll have to examine it on the Big Screen, but I couldn’t detect the movement on the phone-screen.

LakeMich fog waves

We drove west to the next old-road pullover, and here we did see the waves rolling in across the shallows on the limestone shelf. The fog was thick and I had to dance to stay this close to the edge as the water surged toward me.

I returned to the car (rain, you know), and looked back, and the fog cleared and I could see the lighthouse. This change…in less than thirty seconds of silence except for the water-waves.

Colors that catch the eye

Fishing lures

The Guru guruized at the neighbors’…they do some tech stuff…but they specialize in hands-on activities. I think these are decorative lures…and the tiniest trap I’ve ever seen…a charm? Forgot to ask. Anyway, the Guru helped decommission an old PC, stripping it of personal info so it can be put on CraigsList.

Sunflower center

In the garden, despite a light-heavy frost last night (the year’s hardest frost so far), we found peppers of many kinds, cabbage, cilantro, some barely surviving cakes, and a few flowers. I think this is a decorative sunflower, not a seed-sunflower…. I even found a violet (!!) in a protected spot (not the garden).

Red green

I forgot to ask about these leaves…a brilliant red kale? Not sure….

Clouds for atmosphere only

Dawn bench lake

I could see the orange in the dawn sky through the leaves and went down to the lake to get a few shots. Love the graduation to deep purple-blue above, and the deep midnight-blue of the water.

Sunny beach

Mid-afternoon, all was bright and I was surprised at how quiet the water was. Offshore breeze, and slight—it turns out. Love the riffles in the sand. Noticed a few snails(?) still moseying about in the sand; would have thought the cold would have slowed them too much for that….

Wood stove controls

Another part of my day…these controls of the wood stove (our only heat), and periodically loading the wood (fetched by The Guru). So far the temps have been moderate enough (fingers crossed) that stove-tending hasn’t been bad at all…kinda fun actually.