Showing posts from December, 2009

A Sneaky Bird

Today was another cold and windy day. As a result, what should have been a 2 hour paddle turned into nearly a 3 hour ordeal. But I did have a nice break in the middle.

I turned my boat into a large inlet and explored the various streams that fed into that inlet. The above picture was the shoulder of the shore at one of the streams.

At first I didn't see it, but something seemed off so I looked back again...and saw the heron. It's hard to see the heron in that picture above, but the two pictures below, taken a few yards further around the bend so that the heron can be seen in profile (and zoomed in considerably), make the heron a lot easier to see.

In case you can't see the heron in the first picture, it's to the left side of center and right next to a pine on the shoreline and exactly the same height. When I was paddling, I passed no more than 6 feet from the bird. I'm amazed that it didn't take to flight.

By the way, it was really cold out and so windy that I thou…


I'm tired. And no, not the kind of "tired" that you see below.

Those tires are there to protect sailboats from wave action at a marina, a few miles from my parent's house.

I'm tired because I paddled my fishing kayak against the wind up to the sailboat marina. The fishing kayak isn't as easy to move through the water as the blue kayak and that wind was a killer.

All that "wet" on me was due to the wind. My face got the spray from the paddle ends as I lifted them out of the water, my legs got the dripping water from the paddle, and my hips got the occasional wave that was higher than the sides of the kayak.

And since the water wasn't much warmer than the 38 degree air, it made for a less than entertaining paddle.

But that was this morning. Since then I've been laid out on the couch reading. Now I'm going to tackle a minor plumbing problem to help stay awake. Now that I've finally gotten warm, I'm getting sleepy.

Doggone Christmas

Merry Christmas!

A Foggy Dawn

I shifted location during the wee hours of the morning. Now I'm at my parent's house in South Carolina. Xmas, and all that.

I arrived here just before 7am and since there was some fog rolling off of the lake I took a little paddle out there to take some pictures.

My parents thought I was crazy because they avoid the water when it's below freezing---but that's when you get the best pictures. Some people have their priorities all out of whack.

Now that I've warmed up a little it's time to go do some errands and hit a used book store. You never know what you might find.


I took today off from work and went hiking instead. Tomorrow I head over to my parent's place for the start of the Xmas celebrations and this was the last bit of calm before the storm, so to speak.

And calm it was. No doubt due to the cold temperatures, abundance of mud and ice, and it being a weekday---the hiking trails were deserted.

These two pictures were taken at Duke Forest which was my first stop. After hiking there I went over to Hillsborough and did that mountain hike I like. I enjoy hiking much more in cold weather 'cause you just don't get all hot and sweaty. If only there were more leaves on trees in winter... it's just not as pretty when the limbs are bare.

Adam Bowman

How do you like my tree frog over there on the right? It's one of the widgets that Adam Bowman has created. They're fun to customize on his site and once installed on your blog, they're fun there too!

What do you think I should name it?

Hiking in the Snow

I got up a little early today to go hiking in the nasty cold. It got down to the mid-20s but by the time of the hike, 10am, it was over 30. Balmy, almost.

The sun was shining so strongly that the snow in the trees was melting. On us. I really wish I had worn a hat 'cause I got soaked---head and feet.

I really like this picture of the log. There's snow on top, moss underneath, and below that you have fungi. What a nice layering effect!

We were the first people to hit the trail today but one other couple arrived later on and we saw them near the river. Even though the trail was wet and we got our feet soaked in the near-freezing water it was a great day. The snow was so pretty in the bright sunshine.

Even so, the hills were a real pain in the ass due to the slippery footing and the taxing affect of breathing hard in the cold dry air. I almost felt like going around the loop again--but instead I did a little shopping at Lowe's and Wal-mart. Xmas is just around the corner!

A Cold Breakfast at Dawn


It's a start

The snow started around noon and has been falling fitfully since then. We were supposed to have an inch on the ground by now and I doubt it's more than half that---but there's a lot more weather to the west of us and it's heading this way. By morning we might have that foot of snow that some of the forecasters were calling for.

Snow is coming

We usually only get snow 2 or 3 times a year in this part of NC. So it's definitely a change of pace for us.

And I bet retailers are very unhappy that this critical shopping weekend is going to be snowy here.

Here on the west side of RTP they're expecting an inch of snow during the day on Friday and another 1-3 inches during the night. And more on Saturday! Wheeee. And those temperatures are pretty damn low for this area. Brrrr!

I think it's time to go a little further south to where Kim lives and hide out until that nasty snow is gone. Assuming the roads are okay Friday night: here in the South driving when it's snowing out can be.... funky.

Tom and Jerry

I was reading the December 2009 issue of Saveur last night and I came across a short article on page 15 about Tom and Jerrys titled "Winter's Old Friend."

While I've never had a Tom and Jerry, reading the article brought back vague memories of hearing about the drink when I was attending a college near Buffalo, NY. Apparently this drink was very popular all over in the late 1800s but these days it's only common in the areas near the great lakes, particularly in Ohio and Michigan.

In any case, it's an alcoholic drink similar to eggnog but served hot. It sounds pretty good and I might give it a try this weekend because we're going to be having overnight lows in the 20s---and a hot libation could be just what the doctor ordered!

Here's the recipe from the Saveur article, but many variations can be found on the web.

Tom & Jerry(serves 12)

2 eggs, separated
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar
1.5 cups dark rum
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspic…


I wasn't very impressed with that first episode of Better off Ted, the other night. For a season opener it really seemed weak. The main gimmick of the company genetic matchmaking was okay but they didn't really push the issue as far as usual nor was the writing or acting quite as "pure" as in the first season. I hope next week's episode is an improvement. I'd hate to see this show not live up to the promise created by the first season.

What did you think of the end of Top Chef? Personally I'd have been happy with any of the final 5 winning---they were all quite good---but the fellow I thought would win, did win. Not that he was my favorite, Kevin was more likable, but the edgy approach combined with a lot of competency and competitiveness made Michael a hard act to beat.

By the way, Michael and his older brother Bryan have a joint website now: The Voltaggio Brothers.

Better off Ted

It's only a few more weeks until Xmas which makes it a more likely time to end a television series, Top Chef on Wednesday night, for example. Yet two series are going against the tide this week.

The second season of Better off Ted starts up tonight. The first season was really witty and well acted, and I hope season two can avoid that sophomore jinx.

The second show, Men of a Certain Age, debuted last night. I recorded it but didn't watch it. I've only seen bad reviews so there's a good chance that I won't bother with it... but the guys in the show are all around my age. Maybe I should watch the show so I can know how I should feel towards life... LOL

This last episode of Top Chef should be interesting. Kevin and the two brothers are all strong competitors. The brothers are a little older and more experienced but Kevin is very centered and aware of his strengths and plays towards them. It's surprising how many contestants would try out dishes that they'd never…

West Point on the Eno

It was certainly a brisk morning for a hike but at least the sun was out and due to all the rain, the Eno River was looking pretty good.

The waterfall above was very near the parking lot, between an old gristmill and the blacksmith shop. This part of Eno Park has educational / historical buildings that were originally part of a small settlement named Synnott's Mill (Michael Synnott operated the mill from 1752 thru 1778 whereupon a new mill downstream drove Synnott out of business).

We hiked the West Point trails in Eno Park. We started at 10am and it was probably around 35 degrees there. As you can see from the graphic, when I left my house, 30 miles west of where we hiked, it was a lot colder.

The hike was supposed to be 4 miles long but we had to shift around a bit to avoid a flooded area so it was probably only 3.5 miles as we hiked it. There were enough hills to get me to take off my hat and gloves fairly soon and eventually my jacket as well.

Desktop Wallpaper

I'm changing my desktop to something more December-ish. I'm not much for Xmas scenes so I'm just focusing on red to get some seasonal color. What do you think of these two? Or should I go to less science oriented pictures?

On the other hand, we might have some snow on the ground tomorrow so I could possibly get some nice winter pictures while hiking tomorrow. It's down to 35 outside now and supposed to drop to 27f overnight. It's been raining off and on so snow might end up sticking by morning.

New Dog and Ice

I went to my brother's house near Atlanta for Thanksgiving this year.

They have a new dog now and it's very cute. Not very bright, I'm afraid but quite cute.

As you can probably tell from these two pictures, the critter is fluffy as a cloud. When she runs after a toy it looks like there's nothing but a pile of fur flouncing across the floor. Funny as can be.

In the second picture, just out of sight up top is the turkey, and there's the dog stretching as far as she can in a not-so-subtle attempt at bird raiding. Silly doggie, turkeys are for humans.

I'm at loose ends for this weekend. Kim has to work so I'm on my own. I need to fix my bed---it sprung a leak two weeks ago and I decided to not fix it until after Thanksgiving since I didn't want to chance a catastrophic water bursting while I was out of town.... however it's been a week since I got back and I'm still sleeping on the sofa. Procrastination is a terrible thing.

But that fix won't take l…


On Sunday I roasted a 15 pound turkey.

It'd been in my freezer for a year, ever since the great Thanksgiving sales of last year. So, when the sales started this year and I wanted to buy another two turkeys---I had to make room for them by tossing the old one in the 'fridge.

I couldn't eat Mr Turkey right away since I was going to Kim's that weekend, and then I was going to my parents in SC for a few days before we all went to Georgia to spend Thanksgiving with my brother's family. And, come to think of it, I had turkey at all 3 places...

And as soon as I got home from my parent's place early on Sunday I had to take out that turkey and start roasting it. It'd been in the refrigerator for over a week and since it was a year old to start with... but another turkey???!!

As you can see in the pic above, I cooked the bird until it's tender thighs were nearly 185f. Yum-yum.

And I've had dinner every night this week, Sunday through Thursday, using the breast mea…

House arrived and Dexter is shipped

Gotta love Amazon this time of the year. Once you get to the Xmas shopping season those orders are shipped out fast.

I ordered the 4th season of House on Friday and it arrived today. Sweet. Usually on that free shipping deal they make you wait a week or two. Bastards! But for the next 3 weeks as soon as you order something they ship it---they can't afford to get behind. I love it.

And today I ordered the third season of Dexter. That show is amazing. When I first got my HD set I had HBO and Showtime free for 6 months and I really was impressed with the first two seasons of Dexter---but I'm too cheap to keep Showtime for the one series so I've been waiting for the shows to come out on DVD (at a decent price).

Now that there's only a few weeks before season 4 of Dexter wraps up season 3 is affordable. The Blu-ray is about 3 bucks a show, 50% more than the regular def, but this show just begs to be seen in high definition.

In case anyone else is watching it, the second season …