Sunbeams

Tuesday a.m.

This morning I am sitting in sunbeams. I can close my eyes and feel the light; how glorious it is. Having the blinds open comes with a price this morning though, as it is -25C on the other side of the glass and the room is noticeably and quickly cooling. It is worth bundling up for though, to have sunbeams playing on my face. Sunshine is rare this winter, and it comes at a high price, cold snaps.

Attila heard the trees snapping in the deep freeze last night. I had already turned in for the night, and he stayed up to wait for, then dampen, the spent fire.

This winter is either colder than last, or my aging body has reached some sort of threshold. At night my shoulders can get uncomfortably cold, this is new. Also, the back of my head can get cold, again something new. I think I will consider a night cap, and fold down the comforter to double thickness, before I tuck it in around my shoulders at night. It is quite cold in the bedroom, and I sleep near the north wall, so during the coldest of nights, -30C and below, that area gets cold, but is still above freezing. We are experiencing our second, or is it our third, serious cold snap.

Eventually I may consider abandoning the bedrooms in the winter, and setup a sleeping arrangement near the masonry heater; I am not there yet though.

There are electric heaters in the house, but they are extremely expensive to use, and beyond our financial means as a source of heat, except for special occasions, like a few days at Christmas. The cost of hydro has doubled since we moved here, our income is lower.

Were I to design a house for this climate, it would have a central core of plumbing and heating, well away from exterior walls. The exterior doors would not open under the drip line of the roof. “Summer rooms” would surround the periphery of the floor plan, rooms to close down during the winter heating months. There are no houses designed in this way, although there may be a few architect designed seasonal homes that come close, built for the elite who really do not need to concern themselves with the cost of heating. Conventional floor plans, the ones used by builders for almost all of the housing in Canada, fail to adapt to local conditions in significant ways.

I would love to design a home adapted to the climate here!

Attila’s Mom just arrived home from a trip to the Southern USA. What a shock the weather had in store for her, back at home in Northern Michigan. She had a lovely trip by all accounts, visiting with her older sister, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces. She and her sister both celebrate birthdays in the early part of January, so they were able to celebrate together this year. Terra shares the same birthday as Attila’s Mom, and Terra turned 30! Lares treated her to a weekend away at the same place they spent their honeymoon. Luna and Janus went along to share in the fun. They had a great time, by all accounts.

My winter trips to warmer climes involve moving my chair closer to the masonry heater, LOL!

Terra’s new puppy is called Maci. I can hear her yipping and jumping and playing in the background when we talk on the phone. I even got to see her when Terra and I spoke on Facetime.

Tuesday p.m.

Since the sun was shining and the roads were good today, Attila took three hours off work, left early, picked me up, and drove to the lab for his blood test. We hit the high spots, the grocery store and Home Depot, buying a few supplies and an extension cord. Things are tight right now, because all the Christmas bills are paid, including the extra heating bills, and that has emptied the coffers. We can’t complain about that, but we can’t spend much money either.

Our coffee machine, ordered from Sears using points, finally arrived at the Sears outlet. We picked it up during our excursion to the lab, which saved us an extra trip. Tomorrow morning it will be put the test!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

WIND CHILL WARNING IN EFFECT
-28°C: Low -32C
Date: 6:00 AM EST Tuesday 21 January 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -28.4°C
Dewpoint: -31.2°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: NW 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -33 rising to Wind chill -40C

Quote

“It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.”
Charles Baudelaire
1821 – 1867

Taking a Stand

It is still snowing today. It is getting a lot warmer now, with a temperature this morning of -12C, and predicted to be above freezing within the next few days.

The plough went by before 9:00 a.m. and I considered going out to shovel out the pile left at the end of the driveway. But the snowbanks are too high for me now, I would have to lift the snow above my shoulders to get it up and onto the snow banks. The risk is not reasonable. It will have to wait for Attila and the snowblower. Our snowblower is a big heavy-duty affair, which it needs to be, requiring more strength than I possess to operate.

Tonight Attila will spend a few hours shovelling the snow from the deck, it is almost three feet deep now. In the next few days the snow will come off the roof, and he will have to shovel the deck again!

Attila eats at least four times as many calories as I do, and he sometimes has trouble keeping the weight on. No wonder.

We eat at home every day, except when we visit friends and family. We cook most of what we eat “from scratch”. Our kitchen is the busiest room in our house. We use our appliances relentlessly.

An appliance that we operate at least twice, each and every day, is the coffee machine. When Luna and Janus got married we bought them a relatively expensive coffee machine, a Bunn. I bought one for Attila for Christmas that same year, 2001. This week the Bunn coffee machine failed, after 12 years of continuous daily use. It was certainly worth the investment! The added bonus for us, since we moved to this country house, is that the Bunn sits in an unheated room downstairs, and provides enough heat to keep that room above freezing all winter long.

Attila insisted he did not want another relatively expensive coffee machine. We have Sears points on our Sears card, accumulated since our vacation in September. There were enough points to buy one of the least expensive coffee machines, so I ordered it online, to be delivered to the local Sears catalogue outlet. Sears would not let me use all of my points though, I know not why, so the bill came to about $8.00, plus the gas to drive 60 km to the outlet and back. By the end of the month we should have a coffee machine again. In the meantime Attila has found a way to make coffee with the worn out Bunn, but that will only work for a limited time. If that fails we will use our campfire percolator.

Attila had planned to work on installing drywall this winter. We still have bare studs above the kitchen. The severe weather we have experienced since the beginning of December has consumed every available waking moment. All of Attila’s free time has been used for firewood management and snow removal, with the exception of our Christmas visit to the little house in the city and Terra’s Christmas get together. And we haven’t finished digging out from under all this snow yet! The drywall project has not even crossed our minds this winter!

It has been impossible to make any sort of plans. I am hoping to spend some time at the little house in the city in February, and again in March. These plans may or may not come to fruition. We also thought to visit with family in January, as the weather prevented a Christmas visit. I am not hopeful! The family has decided that they favour a wine tasting tour as a January family get together. I am deathly allergic to the preservatives used in wines, so this event is not only uninteresting to Attila and I, it could be quite dangerous for me. This tour doesn’t work for me, and for a variety of reasons it doesn’t work for some other family members, who also will not be attending. Maybe we will visit in the spring, when my Mom comes back from Florida.

Since inactivity is such an issue this winter, I have decided to take a stand, and stand for at least two consecutive hours every day. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you exist 24/7 in a small and confined space, any activity at all is liberating. I will continue to close down the computer for five minutes of walking every half hour.

This is where I stand when I am taking a stand. As you can see there is a lot of snow on the other side of the glass! Attila will shovel all it off the deck tonight, after work, after dark.
Takingastand

In spite of the severe weather, I have been quite comfortable here in the country house. Mist and I have been warm, well-fed and happy, although confined to one room. I have been out to shovel snow a few times since December 28th, but have not left the property since we got back from our trip to the little house in the city.

On another note, many years ago I created a web site for an organic farmer. Over the years he and his wife have become friends. The arrangement has been perfect, I volunteer to maintain the site, and they send high quality organic food to Attila and I. I still maintain the website for my friends, and they donate to my wellbeing by sending dried organic basil, lots of dried organic basil. We use a lot of basil during the course of a year. An email message arrived yesterday to let me know that the basil is on the way. Last year the staff at the post office found the aroma of the package wonderful. As far as Attila and I are concerned, you can never have too much basil!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Light Snow
-12°C
Date: 9:03 AM EST Thursday 9 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 103.5 kPa
Visibility: 15 km
Temperature: -12.2°C
Dewpoint: -13.4°C
Humidity: 91%
Wind: SE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -15

Quote

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”
Junot Diaz