Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Tomorrow is Easter. Happy Easter everyone. How glorious today has been. In fact most of the week has been pretty great.I have been in New Hampshire enjoying the wonderful weather. Barbara has been at Fox Hill keeping the cats company. Things here are great:

  • The computer problems described in the last blog have all been fixed.
  • The ice is gone from the lake.
  • Maple Sap is running - or at least it was earlier today.
  • There is a herd of about 7 beautiful deer wandering outside in the yard eating our bushes. Or at least there was until I chased them away. Lovely creatures they are - especially when they are eating the neighbors' bushes instead of ours. 
  • The sap boilers are running strong.I gathered about 30 gallons of sap today and I hope to boil that down to about 2 gallons so that I can fit it in the refrigerator until I get back to "finish" it. 

I had though that "sugaring" was done for the year after my previous visit to New Hampshire. But then we got a cold snap followed by warm weather and another "run" of sap, so I came back up. I did several batches this week.  

Mostly I have been feeling pretty good and my most recent numbers are the best they have been in quite a while. I do get really tired and some days I sleep a lot. I think I learned this from the cats. They are still the champs and I am trying to learn everything I can from them.   

One problem is that I sometimes get some pretty bad cramps in my legs and ankles at night. I can generally get up and "walk them off" in 5 minutes or so. The doctors say to drink Tonic Water. I have tried that and it does not seem to make any difference at all. Maybe as the weather warms up I will try adding some Gin to the Tonic. Maybe with some lime. Can't hurt.

The other thing that someone suggested is drinking pickle juice. Weird, huh?  So, I have been eating a lot of pickles and drinking the juice. That doesn't help either, but it turns out that I really enjoy the pickles, so I have been continuing with that treatment. 

I will be heading back to Fox Hill tomorrow morning to have Easter Dinner with Barbara and some friends, I am looking forward to that, but New Hampshire is so pretty that I hate to leave. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Sap Tapper

Some of you may have noticed that we have had a strange winter. This has confused the heck out of my maple trees. Usually we north country “sugarers” figure that Sugaring happens in March. This year the first big flow was in early February. I had not yet tapped my trees. After watching the weather, I came up to NH for what I figured would be the next flow. Caught enough of the end of that to make a gallon and a half of syrup. That was 2 weeks ago.

I am most excited to report that my vintage PassePartout (PPT) (“mini-tank”) worked beyond my wildest expectations. It drives over anything – snow, dirt or mud without the slightest hesitation. It gets me right next to the individual trees. It is not perfect. It still makes mostly right turns. Also, working brakes would be nice. Coming back to the garage one day, I came in a bit too quickly and barely got it stopped before knocking over the boiling table. I did nudge the not very solid table a bit, but it did not go over. 

You can see my boiling system in the image below. Today I ran all 5 boilers all day boilding down most of about 40 gallons of sap.

Last week being too cold for sap flow, I spent it at Fox Hill Village with Barbara and the cats. I came up to NH for a couple of days earlier this week. I got some sap but not as much as I expected Also, I noticed that the PPT was running a bit rough. I headed back on Tuesday for chemo on Wednesday.

Wednesday was looking quite promising and I could hardly wait to get back here to the sugarbush. Chemo went quite smoothly. My numbers are still holding steady. Everything happened on schedule and I was anxious to get onto the highway northbound.

In fact, I might have been too anxious. As soon as I walked in the door in Meredith, I realized that I had neglected to stop at the DF Pharmacy and pick up my Panobinostat – a drug provide by and necessary for my present clinical trial – not exactly available at my local pharmacy.

So, after leaving a message with the clinical study nurse asking if there was an alternative to 5 more housr of driving, I hopped back into the car and started back south to Dana Farber – not a happy driver. Fortunately, the nurse called me back a half hour later and said they could overnight the drugs, so I turned around yet again. This was still much better than going all the way to Boston.

As soon as I got back, cranked up the PPT and headed to the sugarbush. The PPT made it as far as the bottom of the farthest hill in the farthest reaches in the deepest woods of the sugarbush and then would not run. No way. So, I walked home, dejectedly as you might imagine.

Barbara, who is in NH this trip, offered to help. She drove my truck as close as she could get and I uncovered my little garden tractor, hitched the trailer to it and drove cross-country it to meet her. Together we managed to get close enough to the PPT to transfer the sap to the tractor, drive it up to the truck, and transfer the sap to the truck. We also managed to complete rest of the sap gathering. All without getting the tractor stuck – a minor miracle.  I am hoping for a gallon or so of syrup tomorrow.

So, clearly, yesterday did not go perfectly.

Also, did I mention that when I got up yesterday morning, my wireless keyboard at Fox Hill Village had stopped working? Then I got the NH, I turned my computer on and found that my beautiful 27” monitor that has been acting flaky finally bit the dust. And Barbara could not log onto her computer here.

Other than that, yesterday went pretty smoothly. But at least, I got some sap. I am hoping that a spark plug transplant cures the PPT and the computers can be fixed.

I will report progress on these and other issues when during the next update.