Fire Cloud...
An irregular marking on the exterior of Native American pottery: usually resulting from burning fuel coming in direct contact with the vessel during firing

Friday, 30 September 2016

On the Wine Trail

Finger Lakes, New York

We're checked i n at the Cayuga Lake State Park at the north end of Cayuga Lake. Yesterday we did some tastings at three nearby wineries. This lovely creature is named Melody. She has a white wine named after her.

I was born on Cayuga lake in Ithaca. My earliest memory is playing in the dirt in front of 333 Center Street and watching a snake stick it's head out of a hole in the Spring. I was 2 1/2 then..and frightened...snakes fear is instinctual.... Probably the lake is too cold for swimming right now. It gets up to 55 or 60 Fahrenheit. in July. Whenever I dive in, the familiar cold water hits my nose like a salmon returning to spawn. I'll wait and dive in again when it's warmer...

We got several phone messages telling us that a Magistrate in Annapolis would soon issue a warrant for my arrest because my taxes. I put the number into Google and the Internet says that  it's an IRS scam number.I call back a man answers who identifies himself as a Treasury Agent. I tell him I am Phred Firecloud, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and ask him to stay on the line long enough for my telephone trace to complete. He hangs up on me. I file a complaint with the real Treasury Department, but really don't expect much. No money in it for them.

We spent a night and day at New York's Southwick State Park on Lake Ontario. On a sight-seeing drive we stumbled upon Fort Ontario Museum in Oswego which has changed hands, been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the last 250 years. You have the French and Indian Wars, The Revolutionary War, the 1837 Patriot's War (an ill-fated invasion of Canada by Canadians hoping to throw off the British yoke of tyranny), soldiers dispatched from here to the Civil War, the Philippines, WWI and WWII...

The final real uses of the fort were to resettle 982 Jewish refugees from Europe in 1944 and then to house veterans returning from WWII until 1953. We only did a total of 982 refugees in the whole war...We were too busy housing 30,000 Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps in the desert,

I'm a sucker for barn pictures. Took this one on a long walk on a country road in the morning.

We bought four bottles of fine New York white wine after three tasting sessions and Mrs. Phred went to sleep early. Wine tasting is hard work.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Wellesley Island State Park, New York

While we were in Canada  we maxed out our 12 gig cell phone plan. I added another 4 gigs and burned through that in two days. We went without for a day and started another 16 gig cycle. The first day we used another 4 gigs. At that rate, we would use 80 gigs a month.

I'm thinking maybe this has something to do with Canada roaming, but research later shows both Apple and Microsoft have slammed us with big background updates.

I tell the laptop that the tethered cell phones are metered devices and set the cell phones and Ipad to stop automatically doing updates and set a lot of unessential apps to not use cell phone data, stop making push notifications, stop updating in the background, close open apps, etc...the torrent of data use is now down to an affordable amount.

We drive though the upstate New York area. The leaves are ready to change colour in another week or two.

The bearded Amish farmer who owns the barn above came out to talk to us. The barn is 80 years old. I ask if he used a paintbrush and roller to paint the red part. He tells me he used an airless and that the airless was expensive. I think he'll paint the rest after the growing season is over.

Wellesley State Park is near Clayton. In the afternoon we stop at a restaurant operated by the Coyote Moon Winery. We order wine, a chicken wrap and a turkey sandwich.

Mrs. Phred shops for shoes but they don't have any left small enough for her feet.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Six Days in Ontario

We cross the border at Sault St. Marie in Michigan and cross back six days later in New York on Interstate 81.

We camped two nights near Thessallon on Lake Ontario, two nights on a lake in Espanola and the last two in John and Tracey's driveway on big lake Simcoe in Beaverton.

John and Tracey are next door neighbours at Sun & Fun in Sarasota in the Winter.

The lake is really huge. They have to pull in their dock in the winter because of lake ice.

Sunday we drive about 30 minutes to have lunch with Gail, who is Tracy's mother...also a winter neighbour.

Ontario has beautiful lakes and rivers and everywhere we travel we see people enjoying water recreation...boating, camping and building...

The view from Gail's back yard...this river flows into Lake Simcoe.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Brass Monkey Balls

Sault Saint Marie, Michigan

The museum ship Valley Camp was once used by Republic Steel to carry taconite and iron ore on the Great Lakes. Taconite  is a low grade of iron ore (less than 15%) interspersed with chert, quartz or carbonate.

This piece of misinformation is hanging in the crew quarters. It sounds implausible.


Wikipedia and the Brass Monkey Story:
It is often stated that the phrase originated from the use of a brass tray, called a "monkey", to hold cannonballs on warships in the 16th to 18th centuries. Supposedly, in very cold temperatures the "monkey" would contract, causing the balls to fall off However, nearly all historians and etymologists consider this story to be a myth. This story has been discredited by the U.S. Department of the Navy,[ etymologist Michael Quinion, and the Oxford English Dictionary They give five main reasons:
  1. The record does not record the term "monkey" or "brass monkey" being used in this way.
  1. The purported method of storage of cannonballs ("round shot") is simply false. Shot was not stored on deck continuously on the off-chance that the ship might go into battle. Indeed, decks were kept as clear as possible.
  1. Furthermore, such a method of storage would result in shot rolling around on deck and causing a hazard in high seas. Shot was stored on the gun or spar decks, in shot racks—longitudinal wooden planks with holes bored into them, known as shot garlands in the Royal Navy, into which round shot were inserted for ready use by the gun crew.
  1. Shot was not left exposed to the elements where it could rust. Such rust could lead to the ball not flying true or jamming in the barrel and exploding the gun. Indeed, gunners would attempt to remove as many imperfections as possible from the surfaces of balls.
  1. The physics does not stand up to scrutiny. The contraction of both balls and plate over the range of temperatures involved would not be particularly large. The effect claimed possibly could be reproduced under laboratory conditions with objects engineered to a high precision for this purpose, but it is unlikely it would ever have occurred in real life aboard a warship.

It's Sunday in Sault St. Marie so we hit a bookstore, buy some box wine and find a Walmart to buy some Glucosamine in the hope of alleviating the slight pain in my right knee.

A happy find later that day is Pickles Bar and Grill which has excellent Whitefish Tacos.

Pickles has a great view of Lake Michigan. It is about 6 miles west of Brimley State Park.

In Michigan we spend two days each in:
  • Sterling State Park
  • Bay City State Park
  • Tawas Point State Park
  • Wilderness State Park
  • Brimley State Park

Friday, 16 September 2016

Horseshit and Fudge

Mackinac Island. Michigan

Mackinac is pronounced's that pesky French influence you find up Sault St. Marie is pronounced Sue St. Marie...I remember a snotty french waiter pretending not to understand me when I ordered Savignon Blanc and failed to properly negotiate the silent C on the end of Blanc...

So we took a ferry over to Mackinac Island. There is a main street that has many fudge stores and bicycle rental places. We walked and I'm glad because at one point we had to go up 300 steps to see the Skull Cave and the Arch Rock....We would have had to come back down the steps if we had bikes instead of walking the high ground.

We are told by natives we meet up in the State Park that 98% of the visitors never get beyond the commercial area and come away with the impression that all there is there is horseshit and fudge.

The old Victorian homes (hotels and inns) are quite impressive and there appears to be a lively competition for best flower bed at this time of year,

This is an interesting horse drawn contraption. A diesel engine powers a shit scooper that cleans op the equine crap left all over the island.

Some of these old hotels are very lovely.

Even UPS and Fedex have to use horses on the island.

The Mackinac Bridge is where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are technically delineated. It connects the upper Michigan Peninsula with Lower Michigan.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Birthday Blog Rerun

Firecloud has another birthday

The Earth has now revolved about the Sun 74 times since the universe first came into being.

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger,

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nice little boy named baby tuckoo. —James Joyce

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway

 Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston,

 Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women. —Charles Johnson

Bligh: Do you really think you'll be able to command this rabble?
Christian: I'll do my best.
Bligh: Well I did my best, and I had the authority of the law. You're a dead man Fletcher.

The moment one learns English, complications set in. —Felipe Alfau,

Q: What's the difference between a tweaker and an elephant?
A: The elephant will eat all your peanut butter.”
Bucky Sinister

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.  —L. P. Hartley

A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson

I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips. ~Author Unknown

 To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time. ~Clara Ortega

 Never have children, only grandchildren. ~Gore Vidal