Mini Winter

Monday, February 15, 2016

We lost power during the night. I would not have known, but for the flashing lights of the clocks on the range and the microwave in the kitchen, which caught my attention when I arose to put the kettle on for coffee this morning. There was a point in the night when I was vaguely aware of feeling chilly, but it did not awaken me. The power could not have been out for long, it was cold enough last night that the house would have become frigid very quickly, had the heating system failed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A blizzard! First we had a cold snap, and now we have a blizzard. This is a mini-winter, a very short and intense version of the six months of winter we received every winter at the country house, all compressed into a week or two.

We are receiving a steady driven bombardment of heavy wet horizontal whiteness. Attila said the drive home from work this morning was dangerous. The roads had not been ploughed at all, so the conditions were a slippery undefined roadway, with poor visibility from the driven snow. He arrived safe and sound, and after a short rest, he headed out the door to start shovelling the drive.

I was unable to assist him. The recent cold snap meant that our heat was supplied by the oil furnace. The heat from the oil furnace is warmer, and much dryer than the heat supplied by the heat pump. We were down to 27% humidity in the house this morning, and my nose bleeds have begun again. I wanted to help Attila with the snow shovelling, but dared not risk it because any exertion would result in another nose bleed. I wet a few towels in the sink and hung them to dry, which will hopefully bring the humidity up and give my poor nose some relief.

As Attila slept today the snowfall intensified, and it snowed all day long. Then the snow plow came through, and it piled the snow waist high across the end of our driveway. When Attila arose from his rest, he had a little snack, bundled himself up in warm clothing and headed back out with his snow shovel. I don’t know how much snow fell, but I do know that the grass around the composter was visible yesterday, and today the composter has disappeared underneath the snow.

Attila shovels the driveway for the second time today. It is still snowing!
Attila shovels feb 16 2016

The computer backup project is going great guns now, almost all the files are on the cloud, on the external usb drive, and burned onto DVDs. There is a learning curve with the cloud and cloud related software, but every challenge is tackled and resolved in time. The real issue is that I must make myself keep going until the whole project is completed. It would be so very easy to get distracted with other projects, as this backing up odyssey plods on and on and on.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 AM EST Monday 15 February 2016
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -21.5°C
Dewpoint: -24.7°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NE 12 km/h
Wind Chill: -30

Date: 8:00 AM EST Tuesday 16 February 2016
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 0.6 km
Temperature: -3.2°C
Dewpoint: -4.3°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: NNE 18 km/h
Wind Chill: -9


“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”
George Bernard Shaw
1856 – 1950

Snowing and Blowing

This morning I awoke to Diesel curled up at my feet, snoring to beat the band, and the wind howling and battering the house. It was quite a combination! We have blizzard conditions here at the little house in the city, a rare event!

I jumped out of bed and headed for the thermostat, changing the temperature to 20C, up from the 16C overnight setting.

16C (60.8F) is great for sleeping. It allows me to cuddle under my quilt in cozy comfort. It is not a great temperature for being awake and moving around the house. At 16C my hands and feet get cold. I could solve the cold feet issue by purchasing a pair of winter boots to wear exclusively in the house. I have not found a solution for my hands though. I have several pairs of gloves with the fingers cut out of them, but my hands still get cold, and I have to take them off to do dishes, or any activity that involves handling wet objects.

20C (68F) is a very comfortable temperature for daytime activities in the house. It is very easy to maintain this temperature at the little house in the city. Tap, tap, tap on the thermostat display and voila, instant and consistent heat! The thermostat is a miracle device, in my humble opinion.

At the country house, at it’s best, the daytime temperature is 20C on the indoor thermometer. The indoor thermometer is located on the central support beam of the house, which is right beside the chimney section of the masonry heater. It is the warmest spot in the room, and in the house. The temperature falls as one moves towards the exterior walls, and it falls further if one moves near the exterior windows. The temperature falls a full 5C by the time one reaches the exterior wall. If you are near the wall the temperature is 15C (59F). It is much colder by the windows. I do not find 15C comfortable for daily activities.

Then there are the windy frigid days, and nighttime lows, at the country house. These can be downright challenging! The temperature by the masonry heater usually falls to 17C, which is not all that comfortable, and requires layers of clothing to keep warm. By the exterior walls the indoor temperature falls to 12C (53.6F), and lower than that by the windows. This is downright chilly for an old gal like me! I have survived these interior conditions for the last ten years, and it has become more difficult to stay comfortable with each passing year. This is one of the many reasons I am staying the winter at the little house in the city, and loving my thermostat!

Back to the blizzard. The wind has caused the snow to drift into deep piles in the driveway. I won’t be going out to “shovel out”, until this weather abates. I am not too concerned about waiting to dig my way out, because Tank has huge wheels, tough tires, and sits high above the ground; it is an “off road” vehicle. I haven’t tested it yet, but I am confident that Tank could drive through the worst that mother nature can throw at me here at the little house in the city. At the country house, well, no, other than a snowmobile, I don’t think there is a vehicle that could handle the worst that mother nature throws at us at the country house. Luckily the blizzard has not moved that far north, which is good news for Attila.

Attila continues to work all day, then come home to shovel snow, chop wood, and keep the hearth fires burning. Right now he has felled several dead or dying trees, that he marked last summer. He will section the felled trees into logs, then section the logs into short lengths, then split the short lengths, then stack the split wood for next winter. Attila likes this type of project, and spends all his free time at it.

Diesel reaching for some love and attention. He will launch himself onto my leg if I am standing, and if I am sitting he will launch his front paws on to my lap, then reach for my face. If I bend down he will pat my cheek with his paw, and if I bend down further he will head butt with me.

Here is a bit of whimsy, my living room on Mother Earth News: My Living Room.

I stumbled onto this web page today 67 Books Every Geek Should Read to Their Kids Before Age 10
. It made me long for a child to read to! These books, most of which I’ve read, are delightful. It would be so wonderful to visit them with a child!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:39 AM EST Monday 2 February 2015
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 1 km
Temperature: -18.1°C
Dewpoint: -21.1°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: NNE 40 gust 54 km/h
Wind Chill: -32

Date: 6:19 AM EST Monday 2 February 2015
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -18.1°C
Dewpoint: -20.8°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: NNE 9 km/h
Wind Chill: -25


“There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
Douglas Adams
1952 – 2001


It is snowin’ and blowin’ out there today! The wind is literally roaring around the house, 60 km/hr gusts announce themselves with great enthusiasm. I am taking the “you can’t see me” approach to this storm. You know, when you cover your eyes and say to the other person, “you can’t see me!” Yeah, right, lol!

Attila is out there. I am in here, beside the toasty warm masonry heater, with electricity service and everything! I am warmer than he is, he is fitter than I am.

The power will leave suddenly again during this storm, which is to last until Thursday. I made sure I got into the shower early this morning, while we have electricity, which means the water pump and the hot water tank are working. If the power goes, the water supply goes, and showers just have to wait until normal services are restored. I saved the water from my shower, so if the power goes I have a tub of water handy, with which to manually flush the toilet. It is the little things.

I have my Kobo charged and ready for a power failure, and I am keeping the laptop plugged in to that the batteries stay at 100% at all times. The laundry is done. The dinners are cooked.

When the weather gets like this I like to imagine how it could be a pleasant thing. IF our country house was in a place where family and/or friends were within walking distance, this kind of weather would merely make for an interesting walk. Dropping in for a coffee and a chin wag could happen, even on a day like this. In fact, it might even provide a sense of accomplishment, managing to get around and visit with people even though the storm rages. Our country house isn’t in this kind of a place. IF we lived within walking distance of shops, one could bundle up and head out with a sleigh, to say, buy a bag of milk, or pick up one’s mail. Our country house isn’t within walking distance of any kind of service. The ideal is very different than the reality.

Attila came home for lunch. He brought the car one car length into the driveway, he didn’t want to get stuck! He will park on the road when he comes home, and the snow blower will come out. The owner of the business where he works is considering shutting down for the rest of the day, the storm is so bad. Attila said that he only saw two other vehicles on the road when he came home for lunch. I hope he gets home without issue, or I will be toting wood from the wood shed!

The 60 km/hr winds are cooling the house, the interior temperature is beginning to drop this afternoon. An evening fire will be most welcome.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 5:33 AM EST Tuesday 18 November 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 99.9 kPa
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: -8.6°C
Dewpoint: -11.3°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: SW 41 gust 59 km/h
Wind Chill: -17


“Feelings are like toes! They have to breathe free or they’ll stink to high heaven!”
Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata


The blizzard arrived this morning. We were expecting it yesterday afternoon. Around six inches of snow fell over the course of the night. As morning light seeped through the white veil, the snowfall intensified, as did the wind. The wind has been literally roaring. With a wind chill of -33, three firings will be mandatory in the masonry heater. So far we have hydro, so I baked a pan of mincemeat squares, cooked a batch of spaghetti sauce, and have taken a shower while there is hot water.

Attila is out there, in the cold, for his eight hours. When he gets home he will be toting wood and removing snow. The snow plough went by about ten minutes before Attila came home for lunch, leaving me no lead time for shovelling. I need a lot of lead time because I work very slowly. So Attila parked on the road and shovelled out a spot for the car, parked it, then made his way into the house for a bite of lunch. Luckily we have a snow blower to use on the remainder of the driveway. This snow is ideal for a snow blower. The flakes are completely frozen, the drifts soft and voluminous.

The nearby highway is closed again, for the second time this winter. This is the first winter I remember that highway being closed at all, during the last ten years that we have lived here.

“Snow Banks” are accumulating on the tree branches, despite the high winds. All that whiteness in the distance is snow banks on the branches, twenty feet off the ground, or higher. I have to admit this is the first time I have seen this, but then, I have only lived a total of twenty years in the near north, so what do I know!

The storm here is predicted to blow itself away by tomorrow afternoon, and then on Thursday, remarkably, there is to be a day of sunshine. And then, the temperature will rise significantly! The January thaw is just around the corner.

I think about the -50C wind chill on the prairies, and I shudder. No wonder the first white settlers in the Canadian West used thick sod as a building material!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 9:00 AM EST Tuesday 7 January 2014
Condition: Heavy Snow
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Visibility: 0.2 km
Temperature: -20.6°C
Dewpoint: -22.9°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SSW 26 gust 43 km/h
Wind Chill: -33


“When I’m working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983)

Maggie’s New Calendar of Wisdom

Attila had quite a time getting the car out of the driveway this morning. He was soon back for the metal shovel.

It seems the little car he drives acted as a plough, so that after travelling a short distance the front tires of the car would become suspended on the snow packed under the front of the car. He would then have to shovel that snow out from underneath the front of the car, and travel another short distance until the tires were again suspended. It took him a half an hour to travel a quarter of a mile to the highway. Then he had to shovel out an exit through the snow bank across the end of the road. He was just a little bit late for work, but I had called ahead to let them know he would get there as soon as he could.

The snow we have received since last night is deep, and it is still coming down. A blizzard was supposed to reach the area by the afternoon. I wondered if Attila would make it home again, if he managed to get the car as far as his workplace.

Just in case he did not make it back, I asked him about the woodshed and kindling. The firings in the masonry heater must go on!

We received about 40 cm of snow last night, this is what the yard looked like this morning. This afternoon we are expecting snow squalls and a blizzard with gusts to 60 kmh. The wind chill will be -34C.
Before the blizzardDSCF4536

Later on in the morning the plough came through, leaving a deep and dense snow bank across the end of the driveway. After dressing warmly in parka, boots, hat and gloves I headed down the driveway with the snow shovel. My aim was to clear a space large enough so that Attila could get his car off the road when he returned home.

For me, inactivity has been an issue since the beginning of December, when winter closed down most of our usual activities. Because of this, due caution must be exercised in tackling the job of shovelling snow. Overexertion can cause health issues for those not accustomed to heavy work… that would be me!

So, it was three snow shovels full of dense and heavy snow, heaved onto the five foot high snow bank, then five minutes of rest. It was beautiful out there, with the wind whispering across the blue sky, gently beguiling snowy drifts down from the tree tops. The snow sparkled as it spiralled slowly down. The five minute rests were pure pleasure. An hour later there was room at the end of the drive for Attila to pull in off the road.

When the blizzard hits us later today there will be a lot more snow to contend with!

This is where Mist and I exist, all day, every day. You can see how central the source of heat is to our lives. Mist’s kitty basket bed is to the left of the masonry heater. I am sitting on my easy chair, taking the picture.

A blog entry I read recently mentioned Leo Tolstoy’s “Calendar of Wisdom”. After reading a few pages, that were available on Google Books, I fell in love with the book, enough to buy a copy. I first thought to purchase a digital copy of the book. In Canada, that would set me back $19.99 plus taxes. Then I noticed a used hard cover copy for sale, from a seller in Ontario, Canada, for $14.00. The shipping is steep, $6.95, which is much more than it actually costs to ship a book by postal service. However, the price of the book plus tax and shipping is still less expensive than the digital copy. The bonus is, I can read the book in a power outage. We seem to have a lot of those these days, power outages.

The pages of the “Calendar of Wisdom”, that I could access online, displayed quotes from philosophers, but only male philosophers. No wonder the world is such a mess, when whole segments of knowledge are invisible through suppression, indifference, and perhaps ignorance, which is why I suspect Tolstoy forgot about the wisdom of women in our world.

I decided to approach this deficit myself, to provide myself with a companion book to Tolstoy’s “Calendar of Wisdom”. I call it ““New Calendar of Wisdom”“. I am working on it, so far I have posted quotes for the first three days of January.

Suggestions are welcome! If you have a suggestion add it as a comment, then there is a record of your contribution right on the page!

I began the calendar yesterday, and am slowly working my way towards posting the quotes on the current day.

Worldly Distractions



Current Conditions Light Snow
Date: 7:50 AM EST Monday 6 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 99.6 kPa
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: -11.1°C
Dewpoint: -13.0°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: WNW 18 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -19


“I run a senior support group in the neighborhood.”
“What would you say is one thing that seniors need most?”
“Just human connection, really.”
“Can you describe a benefit of human connection?”
“Well, we had one elderly lady living alone awhile back, and she got taken in by a scammer who convinced her to give away all her money. If she’d had someone else to talk to, and been more tied into the community, that probably could have been prevented.”

Unknown Gentleman, Humans of New York, HONY