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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Wood Pellet Weekend

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Wood Pellet Weekend

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halloween dawn
Our primary source of heating in our new house is a wood pellet stove. Back in Maryland, we had a woodstove in the basement and electric baseboard heat upstairs that we resisted turning on as long as possible because it was so expensive. The woodstove, on the other hand, was wonderful, and we used it as much as we could. However, it took a while to start it, and it was messy, producing a lot of brown ash that would cover everything in the house.

The pellet stove, on the other hand, starts with the push of a button and does not seem to be nearly as messy. We've had it on three times now--temperatures were in the upper 20sF/-3C a couple nights this week--and it made the house a little TOO hot! But since we live in an area where it is not uncommon to have temperatures as low as -30F/-34C, then we will be grateful for it in short order, I suspect!

Midway through the summer, Tractor Supply Company had a great pre-sale on wood pellets, so based on the usage of the previous owners (who used the pellet stove as their primary heating source as we intend to do; we have a kerosene backup), we ordered three tons (2.7 metric tons). This weekend, they were delivered, and the entire weekend was blocked off on our calendar for transporting them from the TSC in Derby--which is about twenty minutes away--to our house.

We have a little cart for our Subaru, and using that, it took three trips and about three hours to move all three tons of wood pellets. We put about 2.5 tons in our new barn and about a half ton in the log cabin shed alongside our house. Let me tell you, moving three tons of wood pellets is hard work! They come in 40 lb/18 kg bags. A 40-lb bag is not difficult for me to lift and carry, but repeated 150 times with much bending and lifting was rough! By the end of the third round, my poor little forearms were DONE. Bobby drove the Subaru down to the barn and was carrying the bags from the cart to the barn, where I waited with outstretched arms for him to dump the bag onto them, which I would carry into the barn and add to the pile. One of the last ones he plopped entirely on my forearms, and I barely made it! He was complaining of fatigue, and I wanted to say, "Imagine how I feel!" I have above average upper-body strength for a woman, but really.

Well, it's done now. My upper arms and shoulders ached something fierce this morning, so we went hiking on Mount Hor to keep me from stiffening up and so I could enjoy a dose of pain-fighting endorphins. Also because the views were going to be amazingly gorgeous.

I have a ton of photos to post from a stroll along River Road last week for the peak leaf weekend, and a hike along the ridge at Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. Honestly, I have been completely lost in this story I am writing based on the Scottish folk song "Tamlin." I am hoping to have it done in time to post it for Halloween at this point; it is much longer than I expected, in a large part because my first attempt at it was not as character-based as I like my writing to be, and characterization eats a lot of pages, at least how I do it. But when I'm on the computer, I don't want to be doing anything but working on this story. I stayed up till 1:30 last night with it.

I'll try to get those other pictures posted soon, but Mount Hor is going to jump to the head of the line. It was a gorgeous day: sunny and mild. Last weekend was the peak for the leaves, but as you will see, the leaves are still pretty spectacular!

We hiked Mount Hor three weeks ago. Today, it was like an entirely different mountain.

Click to see the photo full-sized. I especially recommend this for the panoramas, extra especially on LJ (which crunches them down really tiny).

We first stopped at South Beach because the Willoughby Gap was so beautiful today. Mount Hor is on the left, and Mount Pisgah is on the right.

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The colors in the forest were ethereal: an almost spring green in the lower canopy that blended into brilliant gold with splashes of orange and crimson closer to the top.

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Arriving at the summit and the western view, you crest the trail and the world just seems to open up before you. A photograph does not do it justice.

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The trail leading back up to the summit and onward to the eastern and northern views.

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Waiting for me at the crossroads, Bobby checked the weather radar because rain was predicted for the afternoon. The radar showed rain approaching, so we decided to do just the eastern view today. It was pretty amazing.

Mount Pisgah, opposite Mount Hor on Lake Willoughby.

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If you click on one of my panoramas, make it this one!

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Sure enough, we were back on the road about ten minutes, and it started to rain!

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Who needs to go the gym with hikes and work outs like these :D
    • Indeed I haven't joined the gym up here! There is one in Newport, about 15 minutes away. In addition to my doubts that I will motivate myself to go to a gym that is now further away than my workplace (I've gotten so spoiled with not having to drive enormous distances to go to work and other places) and the same distance as Lake Willoughby, what would be the point? That's why there are mountains and lakes and ... wood pellets. :D

      Next year, after mud season is over, I plan to do the Mt. Hor hike at least once a week and track my time to see it improve. Climbing hills is not a strength of mine, and I'd like to be better at it now that I live in the mountains. And what more beautiful way to do cardio is there?? :)
      • So are you now cycling to work? :)
        • Unfortunately no ... it's 40 minutes by bike (according to Google Maps), which requires leaving a bit too early for this night owl to be there by 7:30. Also, there are enough hills that I don't want to chance arriving sweaty.

          Now in the summer, when I go in to work in my classroom, that's a different story! :)
          • You have to be in at 7.30??? Oh my. At what time do the classes start then?

            40 minutes is not that bad, my cycling to work is 30 min, always a good and clean break between both home and work. Once I arrive at work, I somehow manage to have my brains fully geared up for work and when I have to pick up the first kid at school, mommy mode is fully enaged. I cycled off all work-things during that ride :) It would fit totally in the outdoor-hiking-conquering-mountains-kayaking ect vibe you now emanate :) I wanted to mention it before, somewhere sometime, but to me it feels you are even more back to nature, close in her arms. Home.
            • The students come down for homeroom at 7:45 and start their first class at 8:00. I was surprised that it was so early; usually the early grades, in the U.S., don't start until later. (And my school goes down to pre-K, so that would include us.) Bobby's school also starts later, despite being a junior high (grades 7-8, ages 12-13). He leaves after I do and his drive is about 20 minutes.

              I will tackle that ride when I go in during the summer just to work in my room and don't care when I arrive or how sweaty I get! :D

              I wanted to mention it before, somewhere sometime, but to me it feels you are even more back to nature, close in her arms. Home.

              I definitely do feel that way. :) The difference between here and Maryland is that in Maryland, human activity was omnipresent: the sound of cars, lawnmowers, etc; the sight of houses and cars and people. Always jostling with other people in lines, to merge into traffic, etc. Here ... well, I have three neighbors. And then those wetlands on one side and the forest on the other. I can hear the highway, which I don't like, but that's really it. I live on a dirt road that is off of a dirt road.

              Getting out and doing something here too overwhelmingly involves doing something outside. We have a cinema in Newport but that's about it: no malls, no big box stores, not much of anything. People here will complain about that, but having lived the other way, I love it.
              • Here Susie's school starts at 8.30 (I always drop her off around 8.20), so my work day starts at nine... Her and Kevin's school hours are 8.30-14.00 ... every day. So yeah, kinda luxury for both, give that Kevin is one year away from finishing elementary (I am not sure what level would compare to yours, but he will be 12 when he is done with elementary and we need to find a secondary school for him).

                So Bobby is closer to work! And still drives? ;) I know that cycling here is much saver and that having a car is quite normal.

                human activity was omnipresent: the sound of cars, lawnmowers, etc; the sight of houses and cars and people.

                Oh yes, when I came back from New England so many years ago, I really had to get used to the human activity there. I remember driving up North from Conneticut to Vermont and it just felt with every mile I was pulled back into nature. But when we circled above Schiphol airport and you look down... our country is really a beehive. I do sometimes miss living close to the forests and Susie commented this evening that she wanted to know what the galaxy actually looks like. But we have so much light pollution that even using an amateur telescope would not do it justice. I can imagine that stargazing from your backyard would be pretty amazing!

                *watches how a plotbunny hops by* Better ignore that one! No time, no time..

                You do have a good internet connection? Just wondering.
                • I personally advocate for later starts to the school day, especially for older kids. Research is increasingly showing that especially teens need more sleep than we've realized before. I remember suffering with that myself, literally falling asleep sitting up as I tried to get out of bed in middle school to be on time to catch the bus at 7 AM.

                  Bobby is a 20-minute drive from work, so he is not closer than me. Unfortunately, cycling is not safer here, although it is safer in Vermont than it was in Maryland if only because we have far fewer cars. We also live in a mountain state on dirt roads, so cycling to work is quite a bit more challenging here! (To say nothing that most of the school year has at least the possibility of snow; we could get our first snowfall this weekend.)

                  I totally support cycling to work, but it's unfortunately not realistic in a lot of places here. Riding up and down mountains on dirt roads is quite different from riding in a relatively flat country that provides paved roads, bike lanes, and has cultural norms that value cyclist safety. There are advantages to living in a beehive. :)

                  We do have amazingly clear skies here. It is possible to see the Milky Way and, within a few hours of sunset, to watch satellites zipping overhead. I usually see one shooting star per night, at least. We also saw the International Space Station go overhead one night, which was super-cool! :)

                  We are also able to sometimes see the aurora borealis here, although we have not personally seen it yet. (Bobby monitors alerts from the National Weather Service.)

                  We do have a fairly good Internet connection. We use satellite Internet and can surf the web, stream videos, et cetera, unless we have high winds, heavy rain, or snow.
  • Outrageously gorgeous pictures! I am so excited when I look at these to think I might actually be able to visit next summer. (I am trying to lose weight so I can hike around more.)

    They come in 40 lb/18 kg bags. A 40-lb bag is not difficult for me to lift and carry, but repeated 150 times with much bending and lifting was rough!

    I never could have done that! And I hauled sleeping 40-pound kids out of a car and up a flight of stairs regularly when I was young. Just be careful, please! You are not a man with a man's upper body skeletal and muscular structure. You're not Brienne of Tarth from 'Game of Thrones.'

    this story I am writing based on the Scottish folk song "Tamlin."

    I bet this is going to be really amazing! I cannot wait to read it. I am an absolute pushover for this entire captured-by-the-queen-of-fairie genre. Would love to try one myself!

    If you haven't already read it, read Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer after you finish your story. It is my absolute favorite so far in the variations on this trope. Great story and beautiful language and characterization.
    • Bobby put it best today when he said the Northeast Kingdom is basically a postcard. It is! Even the cows are those black-and-white picturesque kind.

      I know it is futile to tell you not to worry about me and my wood-pellet hauling. ;) I know I am not Brienne of Tarth and know my limits pretty well thanks to all that weight training at the gym in Maryland. I was more worried about my back than my arms! Thankfully I had no back pain today and most of the aching in my arms is gone.

      I read Thomas the Rhymer on your recommendation when I started the Tamlin story the first time! That was years ago now, which is kind of embarrassing. I like how the story is turning out so far. It is going to be dark--I am writing it for Haunted October after all--but I hope a new take on the old tale. And I hope my characters are interesting; that is why I started again because the first try at the story seemed very flat and not my usual writing.
  • Oh, man...those photos. And those you & Bobby have posted previously. I am soooooo jonesin' to head up to the NEK next fall and inflict myself on you, i.e., book a room or better yet, a vacation rental, for a long weekend next autumn (and of course, I have been checking out vacation rentals for Mereth). Autumn is the BEST season in New England, and your photos amply illustrate why.

    My arms are vicariously shaking from reading about the wood pellet hauling. Good lord, that's a LOT of work. Does the pellet stove have a fan to help distribute the heat? We had a wood-burning stove in our basement in Madison (also had cold, cold winters), and I swear, it would reach 90 degrees in the finished part of the basement where we watched TV. We really could have used some sort of system to distribute the heat around the house.

    Like Oshun, I am really looking forward to reading the Tamlin-inspired story and will also recommend Thomas the Rhymer - one of my favorites from Ellen Kushner.
    • We can't wait to be inflicted upon! If that even makes sense. :D

      We've had an exceptionally beautiful fall, even by Vermont standards, from what I've been told. We had nice foliage in Maryland too, and I never quite got what the hullabaloo was about New England leaves, but I totally get it now.

      We don't have a fan for the pellet stove, but it's smack in the middle of the house and the house is very small, so I think it will be okay. We do have kerosene backup that distributes throughout the house.

      Our woodstove in Maryland had passive heat vents to help heat the upstairs, but the house was too big, and we could never fully rely on it. It did become summer-like in the basement, and it was nothing to lounge around in a tank top and shorts down there.

      Thankfully, all that's left of wood-pellet-related labor for this year is hauling bags up from the barn in feet of snow uphill the wrong way. ;)

      I read Thomas the Rhymer on Oshun's recommendation when I started writing "Tamlin" the first time, which was now years ago, I'm embarrassed to say. I really enjoyed it, and it was one of the few novels that I kept when we culled our book collection prior to moving. My Tamlin will be ... quite different. After all these years, I hope it will be worth the anticipation I've built around it, but I'm very happy with it so far.
  • I love traveling around the state with you.

    Three tons of pellets, wow! At least you won't skimp on keeping your home heated, knowing that the 'larder' is full.
    • Aww, thank you! :D

      I think three tons is in the ballpark of what the family that lived here before us used. Since we might be using it six months out of the year (at least occasionally) and it is our main heat source, we wanted to be prepared! :)
  • (no subject) -
    • I don't often admit that many tasks of physical labor are difficult for me, but this was difficult! ;) Thankfully, my arms barely ache at all now, a day later.

      If it was 35 in Westminster, I'm sure it was close to freezing up on the hilltop. We used to start up Old Fort Schoolhouse from Route 27 and watch the car thermometer drop 2-3 degrees before we reached our house!
  • I love the pics! And I can't wait to read the story! :)
  • Repeatedly hauling that much weight sounds like it would be mentally exhausting as well as physically! I've heard good things about wood pellet stoves though.

    It was apparently our peak foliage weekend down here, and it's been hard to keep my eyes on the road while driving! Cameras really can't do the scenery justice at all. The pictures from VT have been stunning.

    (Btw, with winter/ski season in mind, I feel like I should point out a butterfly conservatory in northern-ish Massachusetts, in case you and Bobby visit southern Vermont and you feel like going to look at tropical insects. :))

    Edited at 2016-10-17 05:13 am (UTC)
  • Your autumn colors are lovely. We're also at peak right now and I celebrate along with you, the wonderful colors and varieties on each tree and bush. There's nothing quite like it.

    Yes, hauling heavy bags really sucks. For future thought, may I suggest a wheel barrow? We usually load ours with 300-400 pounds of paver base at a time to get them down the hill to our lower yard and "castle" walls. My muscles ache in sympathy for the efforts of you and Bobby. Quite literally been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt.

    I envy you the wood pellet heater. Wood heaters generally work so well. Unci (Grandmother) had one in her home between the living room and kitchen and it did a beautiful job heating the house. In Pine Ridge SD, it's not uncommon to have a lot of days of sub-zero temps as well as some rolicking blizzards and brish winds. Good heat is the difference between survival and freezing to death.

    My own heat is a gas furnace. It costs, but our summer costs are minimal so we grit and pay for the winter months. I hope your new home will be cozy and warm over the upcoming cold months.

    - Erulisse (one L)
  • I'm glad you're mostly recovered from carrying all of that. I know I couldn't have.

    *stares at the photos* Wow!
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