Cold Snap

The roads were bad yesterday, Sunday, preventing us from attending a family get together. I would have loved to have been there, but circumstances were beyond anyone’s control.

The temperature this morning was -26C. A midday firing of the masonry heater is required. The sun in shining, which adds some cheer to the day. This is the second day in December that we have seen stretches of sunshine. I will open the blinds on one of the windows, despite the fact that it will significantly cool the room, move my chair closer to the masonry heater, and rotate it so that I am gazing at the blue sky.

Time has slipped away, filled with little domestic chores; the setting of the fire in the hearth, the peeling of vegetables for the cast iron dutch oven, where they simmered all the day, ready for an “instant” evening meal. The rest of the time Mist and I sat warm by the fire, resistant to venturing towards the nippy corners of the room.

Attila has set the evening fire, and then headed back to the wood shed once more, to gather the wood needed for tomorrow morning and midday firings. It will drop to -27C tonight, we are in the midst of a cold snap!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-26°C
Date: 6:00 AM EST Monday 16 December 2013
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -26.1°C
Dewpoint: -28.5°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: NW 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -31

Quote

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.”
Mahatma Gandhi
1869 – 1948

Cold Out There

Last night was a bit colder than expected, -29C at six this morning. Attila’s diligent attention to the hearth fires yesterday has succeeded in keeping the house reasonably comfortable. There is just a touch of chill in the air, in the house, this morning. I must dress warmly to stay comfortable. If I dress warmly I am comfortable.

Today is the last day of January, thank goodness. This morning when Attila left for work there was enough light in the sky that we could actually see one another clearly to wave goodbye, facial expressions and all. The distant horizon was pink and silver behind him, and now, an hour or so later, the tips of the tree tops are blazing in the sunshine.

Yesterday we made a quick dash to the village to buy some bread, and other supplies. There is a small store about five miles from here, but it only sells bread contaminated with my allergen, and prices are much higher there than in the village. The drive into the village was beautiful: sparkling snow, white frosted evergreens, blue, blue sky. It was great to get out for a few hours.

Attila is also coming down with cabin fever. We are busy making escape plans. Making plans temporarily alleviates the worst of the symptoms. Cabin fever is about failing human interconnections, and develops slowly as human connections slow or cease. Digital contact helps, but it only addresses the symptoms and is not a solution.

My shower this morning was akin to a polar bear dip, as I stepped out of the shower and into the icy bathroom. Very invigorating. My clothes had been warming on the hearth for quite some time, so I sprinted to the masonry heater to dry myself and don my warmed clothing.

This is an old video about masonry heaters, one I hadn’t seen before; this is not us, our masonry heater or our home. This must have been produced in southern climes, because when it is -29C outside, you need three “50 pound” fires every day, and that is not a small armful of wood by any means. Regardless, our masonry heater heats our house using about 12 face cords of wood per winter. That is a lot of wood and a lot of work, but we are almost exclusively “off-grid” when it comes to heat in the winter.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-29 °C
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -29.0°C
Dewpoint: -31.7°C
Humidity: 78 %
Wind: 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -33

Quote

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”
H. P. Lovecraft
1890 – 1937

Note

“A masonry heater (or masonry stove) is a device for warming a home (or any interior space) that captures the heat from periodic burning of fuels (primarily wood), and then radiates that heat over a long period at a fairly constant temperature. The technology exists in many forms from the Roman hypocaust to the Austrian/German kachelofen. The hypocaust is a system for heating the floors and walls of buildings (especially baths) using the smoke and exhaust of a single fire. In Eastern and Northern Europe and North Asia, these kachelofens (or steinofens) evolved in many different forms and names, such as a Russian Stove/Fireplace (Russian: Русская печь), a Finnish Stove (in Finnish: pystyuuni or kaakeliuuni, “tile oven”) and the Swedish Stove (in Swedish: kakelugn, “tile stove” or “contra-flow stove”) associated with Carl Johan Cronstedt. The Chinese developed the same principle into their Kang bed-stove.”
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masonry_heater

Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.

Sunday morning 6:00 a.m. and I’ve been awake for what seems like hours. Attila is sleeping, the windows are spaces coloured black. With cabin fever one cannot afford to lie in bed for too long, black thoughts eventually outrun you. So here I am at the keyboard, at six on a Sunday morning, by lamplight. “Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.”

My inner voice has all sorts of sayings and phrases from my childhood. I hardly notice them and seldom verbalize them. This morning they are keeping me company.

Funny, the phrase “ain’t nobody here but us chickens” has always been a part of my world. I never thought about the origin until this morning, and it does make sense. It is possible that I listened to the Decca release of this song as a child, or perhaps just heard the adults around me use the phrase. My grandparents had a windup gramophone and we delighted in playing “old” records; which were actually relatively recent releases in those days, but since they belonged to my grandparents we thought of them as “old”. My favorite song as a child was Side by Side by Harry Woods, although I don’t know who performed the song on the actual recording we played, it might have been Nick Lucas or Kay Starr.

Tonight the outdoor temperature is due to dip to -27C. Attila will try to get ahead of this cold snap by splitting and toting enough wood for three fires in the masonry heater and two separate firings of the little wood stove downstairs. Heating with wood is a love/hate thing, love the heat, the crackle, the dancing flames and hate the inflexibility, chopping, splitting, toting, wood chips, ash and cleaning. Mist thinks this is just silly, wood heat is all good; until the humans fall behind in the quest for fire.

I usually pay no attention to jokes, as many of them these days are made at the expense of others. A fellow “classmate”, who attended the program for old workers with me, forwards email jokes and images that she finds amusing. I love her sense of humour and enjoy almost all the missives she sends my way. Neither she nor I were assisted by the program in finding work that would support us, so the humourous messages are a nice way of keeping in touch without bemoaning the deplorable state of non-employment/under-employment we both experience. This morning three new jokes appeared in my inbox, two of which elicited loud guffaws from both Attila and myself. One of them I found on the Internet, moral of the church gossip, classified as a church joke. However, to my mind it represents life in a small town, or in any place/group with a limited membership and control issues.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-11 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -11.0°C
Dewpoint: -12.1°C
Humidity: 92 %
Wind: WNW 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -14

Quote

“who… didn’t show any bitterness about his truncated life, as if he were oblivious to all the evil he had suffered. How different the old man was from some Chinese dissidents who were well supported by universities and foundations.”
A Free Life by Ha Jin (2007)

Note

Song: There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens (1946 hit)
by Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five
“There ain’t nobody here but us chickens
There ain’t nobody here at all
So calm yourself,
And stop your fuss
There ain’t nobody here but us
We chickens tryin’ to sleep,
And you butt in
And hobble, hobble hobble hobble
With your chin”
Source: http://www.louisjordan.com/lyrics/AintNobodyHereButUsChickens.aspx?l=1

Joke: moral of the church gossip
“Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church’s morals, kept sticking her nose into other people’s business. Several members did not approve of her extra-curricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.
She made a mistake, however, when she accused George, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon.
She emphatically told George and several others that everyone seeing it there would know what he was doing. George, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn’t explain, defend, or deny. He said nothing.”
Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred’s house … and left it there all night.
Source: http://www.clown-ministry.com/Articles/funny-jokes/funny-jokes/church-gossip.html

Cool Indoors

There was a bit of light in the sky this morning, when Attila left for work; I could see him to wave goodbye.

Pretty With An Edge -26C

Pretty With An Edge -26C

The outdoor temperature is -26C, getting warmer.  The indoor temperature is 16C in the warmest part of the house, right beside the masonry heater.  After Attila left I spent ten minutes before the fire, warming my clothes before dressing for the day.  When it is cool indoors it is very important not to allow yourself to become chilled.  I am wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday, plus my fingerless gloves.  The temperature outdoors should rise steadily during the day; the temperature indoors will follow suit. By tomorrow Attila will restore cozy. Mist adores Attila, with good reason.

During the last week I’ve left the house for a total of three hours. This is a problem, as the longer the isolation, the more painful it becomes to venture forth from home and participate in the world. One week of isolation is my threshold, after that venturing forth becomes a source of anxiety. Luckily I have a job interview tomorrow, and after that I am scheduled to work for a few days at the end of this week. My anxiety at venturing forth after isolation is mixed with the anxiety of performing well on a job interview; all the anxiety is dealt with in one single experience! Then I’m good to go for the rest of the week.

I tried to purchase a book from Kobo today, but ran into a glitch. They charged my credit card, but no link to download the book was provided. I immediately called about my concern and they have acknowledge this by sending me an email with a ticket number. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to resolve this issue.

Caitrìona called from Florida this morning for a short chat; it was wonderful to hear her voice!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-26 °C
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -26.0°C
Dewpoint: -30.1°C
Humidity: 69 %
Wind: SE 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -33

Quote

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.”
Eddie Rickenbacker
1890 – 1973