Winter Works

Finally a snow fall last weekend with snow so pure that when I shovelled it off the balcony it left a puff of the finest snow smoke in the air – sorry, no sun so no photo.

First Winter Works job: shovel the bee hive doorway. A few hours later they were pitching out their aged dead. I’m assured it’s a sign of a healthy hive!








Next task was to set the Cross Country Ski Trail for the first time this winter. There was enough snow for two full days excellent skiing.  The trail now has room for 3 levels of skier. The delightful trail on the second day showed that it is shared with deer and cayote judging by the tracks. All I need now is more snow and more skiers.

(The map is under development. Google mistakenly thought I was trying to edit their view of Perrysburg and I failed an audit of my changes by one of their “trusted reviewers”!)

Meanwhile “Munger Mogul” looks like this, with a nice herringbone climb up and easy glide down towards “Belazi Bowl”.








The final winter work is the perhaps surprising task of watching for meteorites.  Brian Pejovic in “Man and Meteorites” says about 10 tons per day of space stuff land on earth. Roughly speaking that converts to just over one small (1/8″ or 3 mm dia) piece per square mile per day. Winter ice is the perfect place to look for one.  I checked that they don’t melt through even though they’re very hot when they land by heating a variety of different size stones, from the dirt road by the river,

to yellow/orange color (about 1000 C or 2000 F).

I put them on ice and watched them partially sink as they melted the ice and cooled.

By the time they had completely cooled they had only sunk about 2/3 of their size, no matter whether they were large or small. (Big ones have more heat but would have to melt more ice before they could sink out of sight). So this shows that hot meteorites probably don’t melt through ice when they land.

Another test I did for the bigger ones was to lob a 5 lb. rock onto about 2″ thick ice, from a height of around 20 ft.  While the rock punched a hole in the ice, the water behind it prevented it from going through like a stone through a glass window. The rock simply bounced a short distance away.







From all this I conclude it is well worth watching for odd stones in the very small to tennis ball size range when you are out on the ice.

One of the best ways to increase your chances of finding one is to increase the search. So if all the blog readers look we actually might catch one. Let us know if you do? A bigger one is very valuable – pick it up carefully with a clean paper to keep it pure.



It’s a Jungle in Here

My wonderful indoor Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm/composter (totally odorless)

has little, millimeter size, “springers” in the basement swimming pool of “worm tea”

but they seem to be totally harmless; meanwhile the red wiggler worms toothlessly digest our fruit and vegetable peelings (see image below of the underneath of the top tray lifted up for the photo).

Each tray rests on the contents of the one below so the worms can travel easily up an down. After about 3 months they produce the most wonderfully beneficial vermi-castings for my indoor plants. Fresh food is in the top tray (left) – fresh worm castings are in the bottom one (right). 








But if I don’t put enough shredded newspaper on top of the peelings, especially bananas, it can grow fruit flies.  The best trap for fruit flies is a wine bottle with its “lees” (a good crossword puzzle word) plus a little water and a drop of liquid detergent so they sink instead of dancing on the surface of the wine.

But they are useful as totally independent and unbiased wine tasters: after one week they conclusively preferred (by a count of the happy drowned carcasses, and after adjusting for time exposed) a medium body Argentinian Malbec to a variety of California and New York Finger lake red and white wines, and even a Mexican Corona beer.  Francis Ford Coppola’s designer label Rosso fared very badly!

Meanwhile out in the conservatory my poisonous Oleander insists on producing tropical aphids despite occasional application of so-called ‘insecticidal soap’. Why anyone would ever label product that lists 1% “Active ingredient” and 99% “Other” is beyond me. (or why would I ever buy it?)








They have the strangest 3 tails, plus a big proboscis to suck the flower buds dry (photo below shows one on its back with the damaging nose visible).

Outside on the balcony the ants take care of them and the flowers are great in summer. Next winter I might have to invite the ants in too.

Now, to make matters worse, I’ve just discovered a similar 3 tailed form, but black color, aphid on an orchid from Ikea which has been nicely flowering for the last month (see the black dots on the top flower stems).








FYI, all the bug photos were simply taken by holding my cell phone lens to this simple 50 x magnifier.

Under the Outskirts

Driving again to Chicago last week I passed under the edge of a dense cloud bank. I always expect some dramatic weather at the skirting line between blue and black sky but it never happens.  Are these the places where those bumpy or jagged frontal lines occur on weather maps?


A few years ago I flew over one such edge at sunrise while descending into Philadelphia – even more dramatic in appearance but surprisingly not bumpy

It was a little more concerning to sail under one such cloud skirt edge in the middle of the empty Atlantic early one morning years ago with Tony on Taonui, but again nothing dramatic happened

But right now in Chicago tourists are much more interested in being photographed while standing under the skirts of Marilyn’s huge new statue