Impact of Carono Virus

We are pretty much social isolating.   “NYS on Pause” is, I think, the official term.  Basically everything but “essential services” has been ordered closed.  People are told they should stay home, which is what we are doing. Jim is working from home,  even though technically he was deemed “essential”.  He went camping the other night with his nephew, Matt.  We figured it was a relatively safe outdoor activity, and indeed they saw very few people.  Kathryn’s brother Tom (living south of Seattle), however, said he went hiking and the trail was packed; since their dog doesn’t do well with a lot of people, they went home.

Eric says he misses school.  He is on Playstation a lot, though the other night he volunteered to play Scrabble (which is probably a sign of his boredom).  Before everything shut down, we went and got paint so he is painting his room Phoenix Suns colors – one wall grey, one orange, one purple and one half orange/half purple with a large Fathead logo on the grey wall.  Sometimes I think we are the easiest parents in the world.

This has all hit pretty hard, activity-wise. Kathryn had FOUR volleyball tournaments scheduled for March, all canceled. All our regular activities – swimming, pickleball, volleyball, the gym, heck even the Beginner’s Agility class that Cullen and Kathryn were taking! – canceled. 

Utica College has suspended all on-ground classes so Kathryn ended my teaching career putting stupid stuff online.  Ugh.  Last Friday she was told she could no longer see clients in person and since she didn’t want to make the leap to “teletherapy” for the few remaining weeks, she called all my clients and told them she was transferring them immediately.  Fortunately she had told them all she was retiring.  Not what you would call  a textbook case of “processing the termination therapeutically.”  So she felt she was just fading out of my career of 41 years – “Irish Exit.” Jim says, seeing Kathryn not be able to do all the things planned to do upon retirement, he is glad he is still working some. However, we have all this land around us that we can walk.  The birds are singing, the deer are out and about, the porcupines, skunks, squirrels are around.  Very nice.  We had pretty nice weather up to today, but it is blowing and snowing today.  The daffodils have poked up but they look pretty pathetic in the sea of white. 

We are pretty well stocked as we tend to buy in bulk anyway, so we are not concerned at this point about running out of toilet paper. Kathyrn went to the grocery store this morning. Took all precautions. It was decidedly Not Fun. Got most of what we wanted; interesting what we couldn’t get: carrots; canned spaghetti (for the teenager), bread mixes. Hoping not to have to go back for several weeks.

Painting Eric’s Bedroom

During the outage caused by the shelter in place Eric decided to paint his bedroom. It was last painted by Billie Jo and her high school boy friend – some 20 years ago.  Eric has a theme based on the Phoenix Suns basketball team. We bought orange, purple, and light grey paint for the walls and bright white for the ceiling.  The one wall with the light grey will also have a Fathead Phoenix Suns logo on it.  We ordered the logo (~$70) online last Saturday afternoon.  On Monday morning the company announced a 30% discount on all items as their way to respond to the virus.  Ouch.  So I wrote them an email and said my son was out of school for three weeks and undertaking this bedroom refurbishing and we missed the discount by less than 24 business hours and was there anything they could do to make me feel better as a customer.  They responded and said they would apply the 30% discount to our order.

Overnight Camping at Thomas H Burbine Forest

Burbine Forest (42.81569, -74.38742) is approximately 330-acres located on Pond Road, just off of Corbin Hill Road, Sprakers in the township of Charleston. During the great depression, many farmlands were abandoned and reverted back to state ownership.  Often these lands were reforested by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are now state forests. In 1930, Montgomery County purchased the piece of land from the Fort Plain Bank to create a County forest. The forest contains numerous tree species such as oaks, maples and pines, ample wildlife and a wetland. Thomas H. Burbine Nature Loop is a 1 mile loop trail located that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail portion was partially created as an Eagle Scout project.

With everyone locked down due to the Corona virus and clear weather with temperatures in the high 30s; Matt and Jim visited the forest and camped overnight. During the night we were visited by loudest Barred Owl I have ever heard. He must have been in the trees just above our tents. Temperatures overnight dropped to 18 degrees and created frost everywhere. We arose at 6:30am, packed up and headed home.

Penn Bonc Hill Ski Trail Measurements

Elevation 1,286 feet (392 m)

Latitude: 43.2836807° Longitude:     -75.2829462°

Trail Measurements

Trail Feet Miles
House to Cookout Corner 2210 .42
House to top of Kirkland’s field 4077 .77
House to 1 mile meadow 5027 .95
Bench to Appliance Alley 791 .15
Bench to stream 1449 .27
Bench to Bench Loop 7286 1.38

Total Trip Distance 3.28 miles

News From The North

The HP Varsity Basketball Team finished 1st in their league with a record of 11-9 and besting: Clinton, Sherburne-Earlville, Canastota, and Adirondack. As the 12th seed in the 25 team Center State Conference they ended up vs #5 ranked Marcellus (14-6) in the sectionals. Marcellus previously trounced HP by 37 during the regular season. HP played its best defense and the game was close throughout, ending each quarter within one point of another. The scales were tipped in the 4th quarter as HP players fouled out and Marcellus exploited a height advantage to capture several offense rebounds. The last few minutes dissolved into a free throw contest and Marcellus stretched their 4-point lead to 6 points at the closing buzzer.
Eric has now transitioned to playing AAU basketball – which he actually likes better. He says it is more intense with better players and better competition. They practice 2x week and usually play in one tournament a month.
Eric is pulling good grades and maintains a position on HP’s High Honor Roll. Eric wants to have “a real job” this summer and has several ideas, but I told him he needs to pass his driver’s test because I am not chauffeuring him to/from a job. He failed his test twice – mainly on parallel parking and is very hesitant about trying again.
Kathryn notified Utica College of her May retirement. Now she started notifying private practice clients. She says it is an emotional process. Now that she will no longer be teaching it has enabled us to throw out a lot of paperwork.
Over the next few weeks Kathryn is playing in several Senior’s Volleyball Tournaments. In Oswego this Saturday. Then Slippery Rock PA and Connecticut in April. Empire State Games in Cortland in June. She got asked to play on a team from Chicago in Utah in October and being asked makes her happy.
Kathryn is still swimming mornings. After taking a few months off she has resumed doing her cross fit classes. She is playing pickup volleyball Wed & Thursday nights. She XC skis when the conditions and schedule permit.
Our Ski Trails. We developed a snowshoe / ski trail through our woods and our neighbor’s woods that totals 3.8 miles round trip. We call it the Lollipop Loop as it is in the shape of a lollipop with our house being at the bottom of the handle. One can just do a 2 mile up & back down the handle (there is about 300’ elevation gain) or do the whole loop, which takes roughly 2 hours depending on trail conditions and whether one is XC skiing (Kathryn) or snowshoeing (Jim). It’s good exercise for both human and canine. But as soon as we get a nice trail, Mother Nature brings us a day of rain and/or several inches of new snow. So, we are back in the mode of re-establishing our trails and then seeing them melt away.
Finally, my heart situation seems to be becoming manageable. It took me a couple months to stop Atrial Fib after the surgery. I got permission to cut back on the amount of Beta-Blocker I am taking. The beta-blocker would make me light-headed, cause poor circulation in my hands, and most of all it impacted any strenuous activities. If I did vigorous exercise after about 40 minutes would feel like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen. My doctor let me cut the amount in half and that has made a big difference. Of course, I am still dealing with the issue of lost conditioning from not doing much from August until recently. Eric and I have joined a local gym. Him to gain strength and explosion to improve his basketball. Me to re-gain toning and balance. It isn’t easy is it?
I am still working, usually Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. I have a lot of independence; they pay well, and it is nice to have the health insurance. I will re-assess the situation in May.
Painting Eric’s Room: Eric is using the bedroom upstairs- last painted when Billie Jo was still at HP. We have a few repairs to accomplish and Eric wants it painted in the colors of his favorite basketball team – the Phoenix Suns. Purple and orange!! Only a teenage boy, eh? So, we have compromised such that one wall is light grey and has a big team logo, one wall with a window will be purple and the other two walls will be this diagonal orange/purple.

Eric had his 1st AAU practice Tuesday night 7-8:30pm. It was dark, rainy, very foggy and very windy. On our way home we hit a downed tree in the road damaging the front fender, leaving a couple of dents and scratches along the side door panels. We were fine, lucky that the windshield didn’t break or anything worse. Eric and I couldn’t budge the tree out of the road. Shortly after we left the scene and emergency truck passed us headed to the incident. The next morning, I called State Farm insurance to understand the process. They said we had a $500 deductible and to get an estimate to see if it would be more than $500 to warrant submitting a claim. I called my regular mechanic who recommended a local body shop and I took my car there for him to take a look. During conversation, he asked if I had comprehensive insurance and I let it slip that I had a $500 deductible. So, he looked up cost of a new fender, estimated the number of hours, shrugged his shoulders a couple of times, held his hands out with the palms up and CAME UP WITH AN ESTIMATE OF $450 !! AMAZINGLY JUST A LITTLE BELOW MY THRESHOLD. So, I got played…. Oh well. I guess it is good that I still work and earn a paycheck so I can cover my other mistakes.

HP Sectionals vs Marcellus

HP Varsity faced Marcellus Friday Feb 21 at Marcellus.

HP played its best defense and the game was close throughout; ending each quarter within one point of another. The scales were tipped in the fourth quarter as players fouled out and Marcellus exploited their height advantage to capture several offense rebounds / put-backs. The last few minutes dissolved into a free throw contest and Marcellus stretched their 4 point lead to 6 points at the closing buzzer.

Ruffed Grouse Wing Beats

Cullen and I took a snowshoe hike this afternoon; to give Cullen some exercise and trim overhanging branches that threatened to poke my eyes. During the hike we saw raccoon tracks and lots of Ruffed Grouse snow shelters.

The ruffed grouse is famous for its winter roosting routine, commonly referred to as “snow roosting.”  With no snow, or just a few inches of it, the bird is likely to seek protection in conifer stands. If the snow is soft and a foot or more deep, however, the grouse is likely to spend the night in an insulated, air-filled snow tunnel. The grouse builds this tunnel by first plunging from a tree into the snow. Then with its wings and feet the grouse extends the tunnel, sometimes to as much as 10 feet. Recent research suggests that the temperature in a snow hideaway may warm to 32 degrees Fahrenheit and that it rarely falls below 20 degrees—even when it is much colder outside. This tunnel helps the grouse conserve energy, so it needs less food. Less time spent in the open also means less time being exposed to predators.  A ruffed grouse exits its tunnel with a flap of wings and burst of snow that will scare the daylights out of any snowshoer or skier happening by. 

Ruffed Grouse wingbeats in the snow.

HP Golden Knights Varsity Basketball

The HP Varsity Basketball Team finished 1st in their league with a record of 11-9 and besting the four other teams: Clinton, Sherburne-Earlville, Canastota, and Adirondack. As the 12 seed in the 25 team Center State Conference they end up facing #5 ranked Marcellus (14-6) in the sectionals. Marcellus previously trounced HP by 37 during the regular season.

Team Record
1 Lowville 18-1
2 Solvay 16-4
3 General Brown 16-4
4 V.V.S. 14-6
5 Marcellus 14-6
6 Clinton 14-6
7 Skaneateles 13-7
8 Cazenovia 12-8
9 Jordan-Elbridge 12-8
10 Westhill 12-8
11 Central Valley Academy 11-9
12 Holland Patent 11-9
13 Institute of Technology 10-10
14 Mt. Markham 11-8
15 Camden 9-10
16 Homer 8-10
17 Mexico 8-12
18 Oneida 7-13
19 Hannibal 7-12
20 Chittenango 6-14
21 Canastota 6-13
22 South Jefferson 4-15
23 Adirondack 5-15
24 APW 4-16
25 Phoenix 2-18

Breaking Snowshoe Trails

On Wednesday I managed to snowshoe around the whole loop – 2 hours a 10 minutes and an accomplishment for me that I probably couldn’t have done a week earlier. Reducing the beta blockers has been beneficial.

But as soon as we get a nice trail, Mother Nature brings us a Thursday full of rain and 10+ inches of new snow on Friday. So we were back in the mode of re-establishing our trails. Sunday Kathryn and I broke trail to the top of the hill and partially around the loop. A gorgeous day with blue skies and sunlight making the icy trees sparkle.


The Adventures of Cullen Underfoot

This past week the whole family (K, J, & Eric) were all at home.  It was VERY windy, with strong wind gusts, but no precipitation and the temperatures were moderate.  Eric and I took advantage of the reasonable weather to bring a couple loads of wood up into the garage.  Since we were out and about it was a good opportunity for Cullen Underfoot to be out in the yard and poking around.  What could go wrong? Later in the evening of that day Cullen started whining constantly and it went on continuously through the night.  We took him outside to go to the bathroom, offered him water and finally gave up and put him outside in the dog yard so that we could get some sleep. The next morning Cullen was no longer whining, but was drinking copious amounts of water. As Kathryn was filling her bird feeders, she noticed that her re-purposed orange mesh bag that had been holding large chunks of suet was missing. We think the strong winds had dislodged it. A detailed inspection of the dog yard revealed a large pile of regurgitated suet – but no mesh bag.  We put Cullen on a restricted white rice diet and kept him constantly supervised to determine if he would pass a plastic mesh bag.  By Thursday he was eating, sleeping and acting normal.  Kathryn decided he no longer had to be supervised on every outing. As she was sitting at the kitchen table, she saw Cullen race by with a recently dug up plastic mesh bag.  Since we had been watching him for the past three days he hadn’t an opportunity to recover his treasure.  As a free dog, he dug it up and was headed to exploit it.

Eric got to play basketball a little bit last night.  He took 5 shots and missed them all, but didn’t make any mistakes and recovered 5 rebounds.

Kathryn, Dakota and Billie Jo all left this Friday morning for a week in Seattle and the Pacific coast.