December 2012

Tuesday -- December 18, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 3.2     Water Temperature: 45

I feel I should apologize to all of my regular readers for having such a sparse log this month. I guess I haven't been too inspired to write and honestly, things have been really quiet around here lately. I'm still following the mystery of the secret squirrel, but rather than the members, it's the beaver that have been the most regular visitors. The seagulls have arrived and the last of the weeping willow leaves have fallen. It's time to brace for the cold and ice.

Speaking of cold, I installed the modular insulation walls in the men's bathroom over the weekend. Once I turn off the water this will be the men's and women's winter bath. We also worked on the tool shed some more. Drew Walsh and Gerry Barton came down on Sunday to frame out and install the windows in the shed.

There was a great Sycamore Island Christmas party last Wednesday. Thanks so much to Karen and Stan for hosting and thanks to everyone that brought a treat, especially Dave Winer with his eggnog. It was fun to be with all of you enthusiastic members and to know that this club is as vibrant as it ever was. The other thing I need to mention is my deep sense of gratitude toward the club and it's members. For the tenth year now, I have received a raise and a generous bonus, but this year I also received a ten year service award! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to at least ten more years of service.

Tuesday -- December 22, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 42

It's cold and the wind is blowing fierce, must be the first day of winter! It won't be long now before I have to shut off the water to the clubhouse.

I got the lights on the trail working again, and just in time for the longest night of the year too! Most of you only see the light after a club meeting or after a party, but it's really nice having them back working, especially since it gets dark so early. The lights quit working back in September when the tree fell on the bridge. It turns out that one of our lights was on that tree and when it fell it disconnected all the wires. It was a real pain reinstalling the light and making sure that all of the connections were right, but finally, I prevailed.

I cleaned the gutters for the final time and I cleared all of the leaves from the roof and porches. I also got around to doing some of the unfinished work from the workfest, like sweep the leaves from the canoe shed roof and clear the leaves and flood debris from inside the canoe shed. I also cleaned the wood stove and restocked the firewood bin. By the way, if you come down to make a fire please make an effort to restock the wood you use, thanks.

I have an exciting fish story. I had some friends over on 12-12-12 and my friend Brandon caught a 40 pound catfish! I was really surprised, the water was so clear and cold, and the fish was so huge. It has to have been the latest catch of the year, ever!

Tuesday -- December 24, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.2     Water Temperature: 42

I have a tragedy to report. Jack Bauer, one of our newest waitlist members, died of a heart attack on Friday morning. He was only 37 years old. I did not know Jack that well but I gained a lot of respect and admiration for the man in just the few occasions that we spent time together. He was a great outdoorsman and he impressed me with his knowledge of hunting and fishing as well as paddling. He seemed to be a true lover-of-life and a devoted father who would often bike up from Brookmont after work with his very young son on the back of his bike. My heart goes out to his wife, Lauren, and the rest of his family. This is a huge loss to them and to all of us in and around Brookmont. We'll miss you Jack. (Jack and Lauren loved the Island and if Lauren wants to use the Club and the Island for any type of memorial service I say we allow her to do that, regardless of waitlist status.)

I'm not sure what to write after that, I'm getting teary-eyed just writing about poor Jack, but it is Christmas Eve and I want to send out some tidings of good cheer. It's funny, I don't have a lot of Christmas memories on the Island. I always go somewhere else, usually my folk's, for Christmas dinner. I do have some fun stories of when my kids were younger and we had to bring the Christmas tree over in a canoe 'cause the river was too high for the ferry. Eventually I got smarter and I bought down a fake tree that only had to be carried down the hill and across the river once. Sadly, the mice nested in that one over the summer, so no tree at all this year. I did hang up some Christmas lights around the windows, and with a few Christmas cards on the sills the place looks a little festive. Tonight I will join my parents and my many brothers and sisters for a meal of our traditional fare, Norwegian Lefse. It's like a giant potato tortilla that you can roll anything into. In Norway they roll cinnamon and sugar inside, but my grandfather started a new tradition and now we roll it up with bacon. MMMMMM, bacon.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Thursday -- December 27, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 42

The Funeral Services for Jack Bauer will be held Friday, December 28th at 2pm. The location is Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria.

Friday -- December 28, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.8     Water Temperature: 42

The river shot up to over 4.8 feet yesterday morning and it's holding steady. Usually the river will rise and then drop right away, but not this time. Looks like we'll have to deal with this relatively high river level for the rest of the day and into Saturday.

We had our heat pump serviced yesterday. The unit was acting up on Wednesday night and I could hear it running non-stop all night. I went up on the roof in the morning and discovered a thick layer of ice covering the top of our heat pump. I chipped all of the ice away and it began to work better but I decided to have a professional look at it anyway. This was the first time that I had a technician down here since the heat pump was installed. He confirmed that the unit was working fine and that all was in good order. Apparently the snow we had the other day had accumulated over the fan and prevented it from working properly. I guess in the future I have to keep an eye out and keep that fan free of obstruction.

The ping pong table broke again. I'm not sure when that table first made it down here but it's been here for all of my ten years and it has always been in need of constant repair. This time I decided that it was dangerously malfunctioning and I was about to toss it out to prevent anyone from getting their fingers smashed trying to set it up. I removed the legs and other hardware and suddenly realized that without the legs the table part fit nicely on top of the pool table. This is great, once I fashion a new net, we can keep our ping pong table after all. Plus, with this new table-top cover, the pool table can be used for food and drinks during workfests and parties.

There is still some flood clean up to be finished and I've been busy freeing picnic tables and clearing trails.

Monday -- December 31, 2012
Water Level at Little Falls: 4.1     Water Temperature: 37

Well, it's the end of another year and despite some minor hardships,(The Dereche storm, the bridge was out for months, I got sick from a tick bite)I think it was a great one. I'm looking forward to more adventures in 2013!

One of the things I'll remember about 2012 is that it was the year that they cut down the giant spruce that was growing in front of the Sycamore Store. The tree was sick and needed to be cut down but it towered high over Macarthur Blvd. for a long time and was close to 100 years old. Its cool to think about how much history that tree must have witnessed over that time. There is a picture of the Sycamore Store during the fifties on our website, ( In that picture the tree looks like a Christmas tree and is already close to twenty feet tall.

According to the National Weather Service, the low temperatures for Tuesday night will be in the mid twenties. If that is true then I'd better cut off the water tomorrow. The problem is, Intellicast, the self proclaimed weather experts, are saying that the lows for the D.C. area will be in the thirties, which means I could leave the water on for a few more days. I guess it's better to be safe than sorry but once I fill the system with anti freeze, it's hard to go back and we'll have to wait for spring to have water in the Club kitchen again.