Monday, September 28, 2009

Crested Butte and Gunnison

Last night, Thayer helped me to make chocolate biscotti. We used the recipe here. Our motivation was the large amounts of cocoa powder left behind by previous occupants. We ended up using some of the dagoba organic cocao powder, which was just heavenly. Neither of us have much experience making biscotti, but I think they turned out pretty darn good. Here's a photo of the logs before their first baking.

[T-I personally think we should have just eaten the batter and called it a day, but that probably wouldn't have been the best choice in the long run. Also, the lumps in the lower roll are cranberries, not rat poo. I know you were thinking it.]
After baking for a bit, we let the logs cool and sliced them into strips, which were then baked again (making them biscotti!). Here's a photo of the completed product, as part of my breakfast this morning. Mmmmmm....

[T- I had one too and it was really good, although I somehow didn't manage to think of dipping it in my morning tea, which would have been superb. I will tomorrow though. There are quite a few left. If anyone likes the idea of sending us things, baked goods like cookies are a tremendous idea. J's mom sent us pumpkin muffins and we ate the whole bag in a day.]
Today we went into a nearby town, Gunnison, to pick up some groceries and Walmarty things. It was about a 40 minute drive or so, through some very pretty country. I think I've mentionned that our aspens around Gothic aren't turning 'right' this year. I happen to think they're pretty, but the aspens along our drive put them to shame. These ones were flaming orange, but the best that ours have managed is a greenish yellow.

[T- first we stopped in Crested Butte on official caretaker business! Billy had some paperwork to send to the office, since it's moved from Gothic to Crested Butte for the winter, and we dropped that off and chatted for a little bit, where we got our SECOND official winter caretaker business assignment for the day - pick up a nametag from a shop in Gunnison while we were down there. They keep us pretty busy here...]

In Walmart, we got all sorts of fun things, like mouse-proof bins and sand paper! The grocery store was a little more exciting, with gummy bears and cheese and cauliflower for me and frozen juice and cheese crackers and bulk cookie cereal for Thayer. Yeah, we went a little crazy.

[T- I also got boiled linseed oil as a nice neutral wood finisher that I can use indoors without killing us. We also got some hoisin sauce, stir fry sauce, and sri racha (whatever, that was a total guess on spelling) hot sauce for cooking. We already have soy sauce, ponzu, and oyster sauce. I've been making stir fries lately and enjoying it a lot]

On our drive home, we stopped in Crested Butte and had burritos at Teocali Tamale.

[T- I think it should be called Crested Burrito, but whatever. They were delicious either way, so I'm not going to argue. They also have mahi mahi tacos I'm going to have to try, but I just got the delicious veggie burrito this time.]

The weather was gorgeous today- really amazing- 70's and brilliantly sunny, so we walked around town for a bit. On our walk, we remembered that we had been meaning to visit the Crested Butte library, so we wandered over there. It's a wonderful little library and they kindly gave us library cards even though we don't have a permanent street address. We explained that we were winter caretakers at RMBL and they laughed and said that we would definitely need books! Thayer and I each got a few books. I'm reading Being Caribou by Karsten Heuer right now, and I am loving it so much. It tells the story of two people who follow (on foot, mostly) the caribou migration to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge throughout five months and 1,500 km. It's a quick read, so if you're looking for some fun nature reading, you should give it a try. I should also mention that there's a documentary that tells the same story. The husband and wife who undertook this are a writer and filmmaker, respectively.

[T- I just got a trashy fantasy book in the series I've been reading. I'm also reading a Best American Short Stories collection, and will soon read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood]

While at the library, we discovered that we will be able to interlibrary loan nearly anything we want throughout the winter!

[T- we're a part of the Marmot library system, which uses trained marmots with books tied to their backs for interlibrary loan deliveries. The system is very, very inefficient in the winter. It really is called the marmot library network, though.]

So, with this in mind, I'd like to solicit book suggestions. Is there anything you've read recently and loved? Or maybe a favorite book that I haven't read yet? I appreciate any and all suggestions!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The weather was surprising and warm today! So warm that the butterflies were confused! This one landed on my foot while I was absorbing the sun and making the vitamin D.
[T - the butterfly is licking sweat off J's foot; you can see the proboscis unfurled and poking Jessica. It has pretty orange and brown patterns on the top of the wings, but displays excellent cryptic coloration on the bottom. Very bark/leaflike!]

And, as promised, we'd like to share our creepy basement/cellar and poop-filled attic. The door to our basement is in our 'hobby' room next to our front door. Here's a view of it.
[T- the jars in the upper corner are J's olives]
It opens and there are stairs! (exciting, I know)
After climbing down the stairs,
you see this
Seriously! That's a real polar bear head (it's even moldy). The cellar is chilly, so I suppose a polar bear fits? Who knows what the previous occupants were thinking. And the rest of the cellar:
It runs under the entire house, as far as we can tell. It's mostly dirt 'floors' and empty boxes.
[T- as far as I can tell, it's actually sealed off really well. I couldn't find any signs of animal life down here. We found moldy books down here, some of which we brought up to air out on account of them actually being worth reading. There were other less appealing books that were insufficiently charismatic to escape their cold dark moldy despair.]
And the attic! The door is in our bedroom.
It's one of the pull down type doors, with stairs and everything
[T- I had a non-blurry photo of J doing this too, but she elected for the blurry one instead. Something about it being hard to tell with tiny thumbnails and whatnot]
Here it is. It also has empty boxes.
There's also a futon frame, an empty suitcase, some roll-up padding, a bucket, and a polar fleece sweater filled with rat-poo. It seems that we found woodrat #2's bed. Charming, no?
[T- we also helped Billy lay some phone line to his cabin today. Apparently rodents got to it in too many places and patches weren't cutting it anymore, so he decided to lay a whole new one, and he's going to tie it up off the ground to discourage critters and whatnot from disrupting important phone calls. We mostly just stood at strategic points and kept the line feeding out. It was not very challenging, but today was an absolutely beautiful sunny day so even just standing around was fun.
We also made acorn squash and white bean soup! It was pureed and yummy!
Oh, also, we ordered a few more things with John's bulk food order and they came today, so that's really exciting. We got better than bullion, loose tea, and frozen pizzas.]

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Tea Cozy

Thayer and I often have a pot of tea in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the cabin is usually relatively chilly by then, and our tea gets cold quickly. A crocheted solution!
I used some scrap yarn and whipped this up two days ago. I think it should work pretty well. Thayer picked out the yarn and made the pom-pom on top. He's very proud of it. There might eventually be some crocheted flowers on it, if I can figure out how to make those.

We've been pretty quiet on the blog recently because we really haven't been doing much of note. But stay tuned for a visit to our creepy cellar and attic!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We are so lucky to be in such an amazingly beautiful place.
This is the view that greeted me from our bedroom window.
And here is the view from our front door.
(remember that you can see a larger view of the photos by clicking on them)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lots of Food!

Yesterday morning (at 8- too early!), Thayer and I drove into Crested Butte. CB is about a twenty minute drive from Gothic and is an adorable Colorado-touristy town. Lots of restaurants, coffee shops (many roast their own coffee), silver- and gold-smiths, and outdoor outfitters.
[T - it's about 8 streets wide by 10 streets long or something. Very cute and small. They also have a big store that just sells fancypants sunglasses. I was impressed. Also while we were in town, we went into the little local grocery store and got eggs and carrots and a fireplace lighter and soap. Some stuff is really expensive, but vegetarian organic eggs were only like 3 dollars a dozen! The cashier told us that some people seem to have problems with those fireplace lighters at the altitude here, but it lit just fine for me. Maybe I got lucky, or maybe as it runs lower on fuel it will be more frustrating]
In front of the local health food store, we located the truck and truck-driver of our natural foods bulk order. It was like Christmas- so many delightful boxes full of delicious treats. We loaded our Subaru full of boxes before walking over to Camp 4 Coffee. I had one of the most delicious cafe au laits ever. It was such a treat after being in our cabin for two weeks.
[T- it wasn't quite as exciting for me. Mostly I just got to hold it and spill coffee on myself as we drove down the bumpy dirt road home]
Here's a view of most of our loot (excluding frozen things, which had already been put away).
And a select list of some of our goodies:
-one case of Yorkshire Gold Tea
-one case of Newman's Own Ginger-O's
-5 lbs. of pistachios
-5 lbs. of walnuts
-2 cases chocolate almond milk
-one case organic "nutella"
[T- I can't eat it though, it turns out - it has peanut traces. The Kroeger one we bought in Gunnison is safe though, and J is more into nutella than me anyway so it all works out]
Yes, we made out pretty well. Don't worry, there are healthy foods in that pile, too. All of this food is in preparation for winter, which is definitely coming quickly now. We have cold rainstorms every afternoon, sometimes with sleet or hail. The small bit of morning sunshine is doing less and less to take the chill off the cold air.
[T- we have yet to see the sun so far today. It's quite chilly]
The marmots seem to agree with us, as we're seeing very little of them now. Sometimes they'll be out in the morning sun munching on thistle, but they're spending much more time in their burrows. Soon, they'll be hunkering down for the winter in their social burrows (an article about social hibernation in yellow-bellied marmots) and we won't see them at all. The aspens are changing colors in funny little patches. Some have lost all their leaves and some are still green (microclimates!).
And we finally used our woodstove for the first time yesterday.
[T- some of the wood was a little wet, but we coaxed it into going eventually. A bellows would have been handy, but I couldn't find one so I gave my lungs a workout instead. Once it gets going in that stove, it puts out a delightful amount of heat. That stylish window screening you see leaning against it is the technologically advanced ember guard I was using while we had the stove open. It actually worked very well, even if it wasn't intended for said use. In the pile of paper recycling you can see to the left of the stove, J found a Gunnison newspaper that was all hilarious postings for things like "beautiful donkeys for sale" and "found: one blue fiberglass oar on fifth street." One guy advertised that he would be willing to help elk hunters carry their elk kill in exchange for some delicious elk meat. Another ad was posted by someone who was interested in purchasing an AK-47 Assault Rifle and meteorites. Yep, that's pretty much all the ad said. He wanted an assault rifle, and also, meteorites.]
And speaking of preparing for winter, I'm working on a pair of knee socks with some sock wool that Thayer gave me. Here are their feet, complete with heels. I've now picked up those stitches around the open part and am knitting some legs onto them. It's a new pattern at which all knitters should take a look.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

For Thayer's birthday yesterday, we made english muffins and black bean chili. Both recipes turned out absolutely delicious, and left us with quite a bit of food in the freezer. The black bean chili was made using Thayer's recipe, which is pretty straight-forward but really tasty. Maybe, if you're lucky, he'll share it with you at some point. [T- I dunno about that...] The muffin making was quite an effort. I used the yeast-leavened recipe from Oppeneer's 'The Bread Book'. They had two risings and were then cooked on a 'griddle' (i.e. on unevenly-heated skillets on our electric stove). In honor of Thayer's love of cheese, half of them had cheddar cheese kneaded into the dough [T - they didn't really taste obviously of cheese, but the cheesy ones were savory in a way that was really different from the regular ones. Both the cheesed and the plain english muffins really popped with some butter]. Since we didn't have any cornmeal to dust them with to prevent sticking (and couldn't very well run off to the store) we used ground-up oatmeal, which gave them an interesting and yummy flavor. They turned out very similar to good store-bought muffins.
Here are some of the muffins cooking on the stove:
A finished muffin (on its side) [T-they aren't actually egg-shaped. I dunno what's up with the perspective in this picture]
The entire batch of muffins (most of them ended up in our freezer): [T- actually, there were more than this. Probably close to a dozen of them had been eaten already, because I know I had quite a few, and Jessica had a couple, too]
And finally, putting butter on a muffin fresh off the griddle:
Just as we were finishing up with the muffins and preparing for our chili, I looked out our window and saw this: [T- I spotted them first, and told Jessica she should probably look out the window, because...]
That, dear reader, is one of the 10 cows that had gotten onto RMBL property. Since RMBL is surrounded with public land (lots of National Forest), cattle regularly make there way along the road through Gothic on their way to grazing. There are sturdy fences lining the road for the very purpose of keeping out the cows. Unfortunately, fences work much more poorly when gates are left open. We had been told earlier this month that part of our job was to chase out the cattle if they were to make their way into Gothic. So, quickly turning off ovens and burners, Thayer and I laced up our shoes and headed out our door to chase the cattle back through the gate and off the property. As you probably know, neither Thayer nor I has extensive cattle-chasing experience, and this event was correspondingly interesting and frustrating for us. We learned that cows are big and can move much much faster than a human over heterogeneous terrain (and probably homogeneous terrain as well, but we didn't get to experience that). The cows led us on a merry chase, lasting for at least an hour and a half- all over the RMBL property. They seemed to purposefully choose the paths that were more of a pain-in-the-butt for us. But, it felt pretty good when we finally got them out the gate! [T- three gates had been left open somehow, so no wonder the cows found a way in. The cows actually headed up the hills to the north of Gothic until they hit the fence up there, and then we had to herd them along all the way down to the west fence, and then not much longer after that there was a gate we could put them out of. It had also just rained, so everything was slick and muddy]

Yesterday I finished a pair of mittens for Thayer, just in time for his birthday and with plenty of time before the cold weather sets in. I'm still planning to add a liner to keep them extra warm, but here they are (next to some pretty fall-colored aspens):
As we mentioned in a previous post, we've been slowly stacking our wood in preparation for winter. Today, we finished! This is what's left of the old pile on our front 'lawn'. [T-the voles living in the wood pile thought I was just about the most terrifying thing that had ever happened to them, as I kept slowly making their house smaller and smaller as they were stranded in the middle of a big dirt patch with bright sunlight. Leaving the woodpile was too terrifying, but staying in was too terrifying as well. Then again, voles must spend most of their lives in abject terror if you think about it. Eventually, they got up the gumption to run into the grass, except for one that stayed until the very last load of firewood. As I dropped off the last pieces, he shot out from under the bits of bark he was hiding under. He's just lucky I didn't happen to accidentally step on him - voles have pretty terrible eyesight]
And to end this post, a cute golden-mantled ground squirrel! [T- I don't know why he was so interested in the camera, but it made for some good pictures]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hey! If you would like to leave us a comment (and we would really love that, yo!) it should now be relatively straightforward, as we changed some settings. When you click comment, you should just need to select "name/url," which is the second to last option on the pulldown menu on the right. Then, you just have to type in your name (or whatever you want to type, I suppose) and you DO NOT need to provide a URL to post. Then, just write your comment and click "post comment." If that's not working, let us know via facebook or whatever. We've heard there are several people who have been trying to comment but have been unable, hence this informative post!

HOPEFULLY, the issue is now resolved. Comment away!!!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


-T: Yesterday we got ahold of some bigger live traps from the RMBL office, and baited them and set both of them in likely rat locations; one we put up on in front of the hole we knew woodrat A was using to get in the cabin, in the same spot as where we had put the much smaller Sherman trap. The other one we put near where woodrat B disappeared when we chased it the night before last, in the upstairs spare bedroom. We used peanut butter and oats, with spinach stuck on top. Apparently woodrats are mostly vegetation browsers, so we thought the spinach might be a nice touch.

The trap upstairs in the spare bedroom still hasn't had any activity, but the same rat that came back the first two times got himself caught for a third time early yesterday evening! This time, we had a plan. We decided to keep him overnight and them drop him off at the trail head four miles away from Gothic - a fairly daunting distance for a rat, we hope. Below, you can see him in his live trap cage. I gave him carrots too, which he took and piled in the corner you can see there.
He wasn't all that crazy about being in the cage, and at first we didn't have a vehicle until Wednesday, so I decided to try to make him a bigger and more comfortable cage using a garbage can and some racks from the toaster oven. However, he decided that escaping was more fun than being a good well behaved wood rat, so we had a fun five minutes where he was cornered in the hobby room but not running back into the live trap. You can see him in the corner here - he's really cute.

We used a broom to chase him back into a live trap, and then decided he could just sit and think about what he had done, as he was a very naughty rat. As it turned out, Cody (another RMBL workerperson) was free and said he could drive the rat to the trailhead and release him as he went back into town, so this afternoon we said goodbye to woodrat A. Woodrat B is still somewhere in the cabin, but we're prepared for him now.

And, in conclusion, here is a picture of a mama mule deer and a baby mule deer, right in front of our cabin (the cabin in the picture is across from us, it's named Galena).

Monday, September 14, 2009

The woodrat saga continues- a worthy adversary proves him or herself


Thayer wrote earlier about a bushy-tailed woodrat that we caught in our cabin. As he said, we released him at a nearby (yet unoccupied) cabin, hoping he would make himself a new home and stop pooping on our couch. We also found the hole through which he had been entering our cabin and plugged up the indoor side of the hole. Unfortunately, there have been some recent developments with respect to these cute little rodents. Last night, Thayer and I were sitting on our couch when a very brazen woodrat walked through our kitchen and hid behind the stove. To make a long story short, we thought we had it cornered, but it jumped up the stairs into our spare bedroom. Armed with flashlights, headlamps, brooms, and trash bins, we scoured the room from top to bottom before discovering yet another hole in the wall. We determined that this hole and the closet hole are the two interior holes that connect (through the space in the wall) to one exterior hole. Thayer devised a clever ramp that would allow woodrat #2 to escape his hole but not get back into it. Then we used a bunch of aluminum foil and a 2x4 to close up the exterior hole. For good measure, we placed a Sherman live trap (baited with Nutella and oatmeal) in front of the exterior hole. We thought that this would be the end of the rat saga for a bit. But no....

As I was opening up our cabin doors this morning, I checked the hole barrier and trap. The barrier was still in place, but the trap was....gone. I climbed around the side of the house, where I found a very heavy Sherman trap sitting on the grass. Opening it, we found a very confused woodrat. We think this was the woodrat we relocated in our past post, who was trying to get back into his cozy house. Both the trapped rat and the relocated rat were blind in one eye, so we strongly suspect them to be one and the same. He was pretty cute, but the trap was far too small for him (we're currently trying to locate some larger live traps). So, after we got him out of the trap and into a trash bin (where I took this picture), he jumped (about 2 ft. straight up) out of the bin and ran into our wood pile. Oh good, yet another woodpile inhabitant.

Oh, and I baked some bread!
This was the basic whitebread recipe from Betsy Oppeneer that I mentionned in the last post. I made it with some whole wheat flour, and it turned out very well, if I do say so myself. It's fabulous sandwich bread.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Beetles, weasels, and sleet, oh my!

I'm not sure if we've mentioned these guys before:
These mule deer are incredibly ubiquitous around here. We see them browsing every evening around dinner time or so. There are about three adults and two juveniles that hang around in town.

It's beginning to feel more like fall- cool breezes and more stormy weather. Since we're in a valley surrounded by mountains, we expect our first snowfall pretty soon, probably in late September. That snow, we're told, will melt quickly and the 'real' snow won't come until mid to late October. Yesterday we got a taste of what's to come with a chilly storm. There was quite a lot of sleet and loud thunder!
In preparation for winter, we started stacking our wood today. The weather was brisk, but sunny, and we definitely made a dent in our big pile-o-wood. You can compare this picture with the earlier one of our cabin. The pile really is much smaller!

While packing, we found some critters who had been content inhabitants of the wood pile before we so rudely disturbed them. This longhorn beetle (of the family Cerambycidae) was hanging out on one of the pieces of wood.

And also, a short-tailed weasel (Mustela erminea)! This weasel kept darting in and out of the wood pile as we removed pieces. It was clearly distressed that we were removing such a fabulous small-mammal house from our yard. I'm sure it will make a new home below the big stacks of wood now surrounding our cabin. Both Thayer and I are really hoping that it will make some meals out of the mice that have been giving us trouble.In other news of animals hunting for meals, we saw our fox grab a chipmunk this evening. The fox was walking down the road, stopped and looked to the side, and then suddenly pounced into the tall grass. We had heard from our neighbors (who have now left for the season) that the younger foxes are pretty inept hunters, but this guy seemed to do just fine. Although I sincerely doubt that hunting for small mammals is that challenging, considering there are sizable abundances here.

One last thing before I sign off. We had noticed an espresso maker up on a shelf when we moved in, and yesterday we got it down to see how broken it was. And it wasn't! Well, it is missing a piece that prevents me from actually brewing espresso, but the milk steamer is working great! I have reveled in this new discovery by drinking lots of lattes (with coffee brewed in a french press) over the past two days. Now, unfortunately, I'm running alarmingly low on coffee. Oh dear, I suppose we'll have to make a town trip soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

All sorts of fuzzy things

T: Well, we still haven't managed to go on our hike to Copper Lake yet, actually - We didn't go yesterday because I woke up with a small headache and we also did not have bread for sandwiches; we were planning to bring lunch with us, since it's a bit of a trek. Then, today, we helped move the RMBL office down to Crested Butte for the winter, so we weren't feeling too ambitious after that. We shall see when we get to it, but it is still in the works, I assure you.

However, we did go on a shorter walk today, on the deer creek trail to the south of Gothic, an area we hadn't explored yet. It was quite pleasant, but it was through a different terrain, a hilly grassy landscape that wasn't particularly impressive and did not make for novel wildlife spotting except for chipmunks. There are actually four chipmunks (one's a ground squirrel, but you can pretend) around here - the least chipmunk, the Colorado chipmunk, the uinta chipmunk, and the golden-mantled ground squirrel.
There is a golden mantled ground squirrel that looks in our window on a regular basis, and often sits on the porch outside our window. As always, click for bigger pictures.

Identifying characteristics are the two stripes, one on each flank, with a gray back and golden neck, along with a short little nose. They are also the largest of the four ground-dwelling Sciurids.

As with most furred animals, maintenance of one's fur is a very high priority.

And sometimes, you just get itchy.

Last evening, we had another visitor - as we were cooking dinner, we saw a fox trotting up the road that goes past our house! He decided to lie down only about fifty feet from our house, so I decided to see if I could possibly get a picture of him (or her). The fox ended up being not particularly nervous, so I scooted towards him, snapping pictures.

Occasionally, he would sniff at the air, or cue in on sounds he heard in the brush. A few times, he got up and started stalking something, but mostly he just thought a little rest in the road seemed like a good idea.

This is after he wandered down a different path for a little bit, stalking something he heard. By his posture, you can clearly see he was horrendously alarmed by my taking pictures of him. I was probably about 8 or 10 feet behind him here, I'm not really sure. Pretty soon after this picture, he moved a little farther up and a marmot spotted him, who started alarm calling from the top of a wood pile, so the fox decided to trot off, and all my pictures after this are blurrier and less interesting.

So after the little fox interlude, Jessica and I went back to making dinner, where we had decided to be adventuresome and make naan, an Indian flatbread. We followed Madhur Jaffrey's basic recipe, and it turned out very well! You can see the result for yourself below:

It is served here with curried chickpeas and onions, and it was quite delicious. I also topped my naan with melted cheese, which I thought was quite delightful!

In other food news, We are putting together our second order of food, this time from the natural foods catalog, which has a huge selection of stuff, and, while terrifyingly daunting, also ended up being a massive amount of fun, and we simply can't wait to pick it up!

J: We still have a bit of our food budget to spend, so let us know if you can think of any fun treats or useful foods that we might be missing. We just discovered that we can order a case of Home Run Inn pizzas- a thrilling prospect.

For those of you who aren't in the know, our cabin, being in the middle of the woods and all, gets a few mice who think that our cabin is a very nifty place to live. They're easy enough to deal with, but a few days ago we discovered that a slightly larger fellow calls our cabin home as well. I was somewhat surprised when I saw a rather *large* furball standing on the stairs, looking at me. I chased him under the stairs into the broom closet, where he ran up the shelves and into a hole in the wall. He is none other than a bushy-tailed woodrat ( ). I got a good glimpse of him before he ran into the wall. Well, we put a Sherman live trap in front of the hole, but we didn't have any luck catching him that way, although the bait did seem to be missing from the trap. Then yesterday we removed the trap to try something different, but we didn't get around to putting anything in front of the hole.

Well, last night mr. woodrat had the courtesy to knock knickknacks off of the two windowsills and then go to sleep in a blanket on the couch, leaving a delightful amount of rat poo in the folds of the blanket, which Jessica discovered this morning. Well, I cut a piece of firewood and wedged it in front of the hole to seal it off, thinking that would be the end of it. To my surprise however, tonight I saw, out of the corner of my eye, something very large run out from under the wood stove and under the stairs! Apparently, he hadn't left after his little blanket siesta, and had gone to sleep in the cardboard stack behind the stove. Well, I followed him into the closet where I found a very very confused rat trying very hard to get into his hole, despite the wood now covering it. What followed after this was an incredibly pathetic game of hide and go seek where Jessica and I attempted to herd a terrified woodrat into a plastic garbage can with a spatula and a broom. This went on for about 15 minutes before we finally succeeded, and we took him outside and released him in some nearby bushes. Since he just kept trying to run back to the same hole I blocked off the entire time we were chasing him, we think he only had the one way in and out of the cabin, and our visits from the woodrat will hopefully be over. If he didn't poop everywhere and generally do naughty chewing activities, we wouldn't even mind sharing with him. He is by far the cutest rat I've ever seen, and when we released him into the bushes, he hopped away like a little kangaroo.

As a side note, bushy-tailed woodrats are also the true packrat, as they are the rat species with the most pronounced stealing and stashing behavior, with a particular fondness for shiny objects. If you manage to locate their middens, they are filled with all sorts of interesting things. I have a feeling that if we looked in the walls of this house, we would find all kinds of stolen bottlecaps and jewelry that the woodrat put there.

J: I'm hoping we'll find woodrat's midden when we clean out the broom closet. It's loaded with leftovers from previous inhabitants (ski wax, blankets, the aforementioned Sherman traps, buckets, etc.). Speaking of things left behind, we're planning on doing a blog on the amazing things that people saw fit to leave behind (as a teaser: wind-up sushi and a biography of Zac Hanson- the youngest member of THE HANSONS)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As Thayer mentioned last night, I was in the process of baking bread. I used the basic white bread recipe from Beard on Bread and had moderate success. This isn't my favorite white bread recipe (I prefer Betsy Oppenneer's basic white bread) and the high altitude (9500 ft., thank you) made the rising and mixing kinda strange. The loaf turned out tasty, but dense- we'll see if we can't improve that in the future. However, it makes good toast and sandwich bread and it has a nice crust.
At this point, you might be asking yourself- they're making bread, but what else will they eat in a cabin for nine months? Well, I'm happy to write a little about that now. Before we arrived, we placed a bulk order with Sysco for all of our really basic needs. Tons of flour (50 lb. each of bread and whole wheat), rice (brown and basmati), beans (lentils, garbanzo, pinto, black and navy), pasta (macaroni and spaghetti), frozen veggies (corn, peas, green beans, and 'Japanese-style mix'), and frozen black bean patties. Oh, and we also got a BIG bag of powdered nonfat milk, which Thayer doesn't mind the taste of. And cereal- rice krispies, cheerios, raisin bran, and oatmeal. I'm probably forgetting some of the Sysco order, but then again, you're probably getting sick of reading my lists of groceries.

We're envisioning eating a lot of bread, stir-fries, sandwiches, and chili. So far, the cooking is going well. We haven't yet been thwarted by the higher altitudes, but we've been sticking to pretty simple fare. To liven things up, we're making a second bulk order from a natural foods supplier. We got the catalog from Billy Barr this morning, and I've been salivating and looking over it ever since. We need an entire case of Newman-O's, right? And a case of organic chocolate bars, too, right? There's still quite a bit of our food budget left, so we'll probably pick out a couple treats to keep us happy in the middle of an avalanche.

On the work front, we have nearly another week off. The building supervisor (I believe that's her title), Robyn, is taking a week off, so we're relaxing even further into vacation mode. I'll be driving our Subaru (the "subie") into town early tomorrow morning for its fall maintenance, but then we're off all week! We're planning to hike out to Copper Lake tomorrow to have a picnic and to enjoy the balmy weather while we still can.