Cold Snap

Thursday, February 11, 2016

We are heading into what is shaping up to be the coldest few days of the winter season. It is significantly colder out there than it has been so far this winter, at -16C. This is our first real cold snap of the winter. At our country house we would have thought of -16C as rather mild. Here we think of it as frigid! I love it!

This weekend the temperature will dip even further, according to the weather mavens. They tell us that on Saturday night the temperature might fall as low as -26C. Again, at our country house we considered this cold, but really only considered the weather to be bitter when the thermometer dipped below -30C, as it would several times during the course of a winter.

As things are here at Mist Cottage, we have plenty of fuel for heat on hand to keep us warm and cozy through the cold snap. No worries, and no wood toting, heavenly.

On this day in 2011:

“The snow squalls were interesting yesterday. At times the sky looked like it was clearing, shortly thereafter all you could see out the window was snow. When I drove home from work yesterday it was snowing hard, and a sudden strong blast of wind brought additional snow showering out of the towering roadside trees. Visibility was zero. And suddenly there was an SUV heading straight for me, well into my lane of the highway. Luckily I live here and respect the weather conditions, I was traveling around 40 km per hour, so I could swerve towards the ditch to avoid a head on collision. The driver of the SUV didn’t slow, stop or seem to think anything at all of forcing me off the road, they just kept speeding along. The road was wider where this occurred so I didn’t end up in the ditch, didn’t get stuck. I just carried on at a snail’s pace until I reached home, safe and sound. I don’t yet look old enough to pull off the “little old lady driver” thing, but give me time and I’ll get there.”
SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
February 11, 2011 at the Country House
-21 °C
Condition: Snow
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -21.0°C
Dewpoint: -22.9°C
Humidity: 85 %
Wind: SSE 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -27

Attila wanted to take the car in this week for an oil, lube and filter change. He also requested that the mechanic look at the back brakes. Sure enough, we needed new back brakes. He immediately installed them for us. The bill however, was something we didn’t need. Just call me the juggler.

Attila will get a small hourly wage increase at the end of the month. That little bit will make a big difference. I often wonder what life would be like if one could depend upon having enough money to pay one’s bills. It seems to me it would be a serene and peaceful sort of existence, if one could take the basics of life for granted.

It snowed on Monday, and again on Wednesday, so the roads were uncertain for walking. There isn’t all that much snow, but there are slippery patches, and uneven patches. Thus, this week my daily walk has been suspended, and how I miss it. It looks like next week there will be milder temperatures, so that the snow on the road may melt. As soon as it does I will be back out there.

The backing up project is progressing. It is very time consuming. I have to sort through files, and have deleted quite a few items that have lost their relevance. I am fairly lazy when it comes to saving files. If I think I might want to refer to the information again, I save the file. When I download pictures from the camera, I download them all into a file and do not look at the again. In this way I have large image files that display a clear blue sky, and nothing else, or unfocused images taken from the car window. Out they go.

The purging continues, at a snails pace. I plan on “nickel and diming” the purging efforts until we are cleansed of the superfluous. There is no longer any reason to save items in case we move to a place where they would “fit”. We are where we want to be. On Tuesday of this week I found a box of electronic cables and gadgets. None of these items has been used in the last 20 years, it is time to donate them, or barring that, to throw them out.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

We are “bottoming out” on the cold front. Right now, as I sit looking out a serene cloudless sky, the temperature is -28C, and the wind chill is -41C.

Tomorrow night will dip to -28C. There was no strolling neighbourhood today! We enjoyed intense snow squalls yesterday morning, Attila removed the snow from the drive and the walkway to the front door as soon as it stopped snowing in the afternoon, before the temperature began to plummet. This is the most extreme weather we have seen here this winter, and it is mid-February. At our country house, the extreme cold and snow squalls were frequent events, beginning in November and carrying on until the end of March. One extreme cold snap seems more like a short temporary adventure, here in the land of thermostats.

I talked to my sister and my Mom this morning on FaceTime. My Mom looks good, although she seems weary of the treatments and the side effects. She is in good hands, my sisters have got her back, accompanying her to her appointments, assisting with the needed home care. My niece is going to spend the next two weeks accompanying Mom to the treatments, and assisting her with the home care she needs for the duration of the treatments. My Mom was instrumental in raising my two sister’s children, so it is wonderful that they are now able to be there for her, as she was able to be there for them.

Mom is being a wonderful sport about letting people help her through the last weeks of this ordeal. I am sure it must be hard for her, as she is usually the one helping others, and she is accustomed to being super active. Mom, you are the best!

I texted Terra to ask her how her recent scan went. Good news there, the babies are developing as expected, and Terra remains healthy. Terra sent me a picture of Lares preparing the new nursery. He is wearing a breathing mask, has a hammer in his hand, and stands in front of a partially demolished lath and plaster wall. Their house is very old, the walls in the original part of the house are all lath and plaster. Getting that nursery ready will be a very big job. Lares does not look joyful in the picture.

Today we are replacing the flooring in the landing by the back door. This little bit of floor is what you step onto when you walk in the back door, and from there you can step up into the kitchen, or down the stairs to the basement. When we bought the place there were cheap vinyl tiles on the this landing, and they have worked well. They aren’t pretty though, and the colour is not to our liking.

We bought new floor tiles for the landing last week. We visited the Habitat store because we had items to donate. Having handed over the donations, we perused the store. We found some green linoleum tiles, just 12 of them, for $.50 each, so for $6 we have a new floor for the landing.

I like linoleum. The tiles are solid, so that the colour and the design on them is consistent from top to bottom. What this means is that when they are scratched, there is no layer to scratch off, the colour and design remain the same. They wear well. They are easy to clean. And they are a colour that we like.

This is the landing at the back door. The tiles are not the colour we would like, and they are poorly installed. As well, they have chipped and torn at the edge of the stairs. They have served adequately for the last five years, but now they are going to retire from duty.
DSCF7824 ed
The tiles came up very easily, and the clean up was relatively easy as well. Attila had some nail heads to deal with, but they were also easily dealt with.
DSCF7827 ed
Since the floor boards were so uneven, a subfloor was installed. Nothing in this house is even or level. It has “character”, and like all characters it is work to deal with.
DSCF7829 ed
Almost there, most of the tiles are down. As usual, there are a few little “mistakes”, and although I noticed them and commented on them immediately, in a matter of days I will no longer be aware of them. They are not glaring, just slightly imperfect.
DSCF7831 ed
The finished job, the baseboards reinstalled, and a new door sweep to help keep the cold winds from blowing into the house.
DSCF7833 ed

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Wow, last night it got cold. When I opened the drapes on the south facing window this morning, the cafe curtains were frozen to the glass, an icy chill crept into the house, and a few moments later the thermostat realized what was going on and kicked the furnace into action. At -30C I imagine last night we saw the coldest temperature of the winter. The weather report tells us that it will be getting warmer; rising from -30C doesn’t exactly mean getting warm. The warmer temperatures are probably going to bring snow with them.

I have been working hard on setting up the backup system on my Cloud, external USB drive and DVDs. I hit a snag! My Cloud by Western Digital does not allow a file search from Mac OSX, the Apple operating system. I ask you, how useful is a storage system without a search function! After searching high and low at the Western Digital support site, and around the internet in general, I found no solutions to the problem. I began to search for applications to do the job, and that is when I bumped into a little program called EasyFind, by DEVON Technologies. I read reviews, and the consensus was that the software used to be great, but was outdated, made redundant by the incredible Spotlight, the search function provided with the operating system for the computer. I downloaded the program and voila, it searched the Cloud, albeit slowly, and did a fine job of it. Problem solved.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-16°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Thursday 11 February 2016
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -15.9°C
Dewpoint: -19.2°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: NW 21 km/h
Wind Chill: -26

-28°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Saturday 13 February 2016
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -26.7°C
Dewpoint: -34.8°C
Humidity: 46%
Wind: NW 26 km/h
Wind Chill: -41
Mainly sunny. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40. High minus 18. Wind chill minus 34.
Tonight A few clouds. Wind northwest 20 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 28. Wind chill minus 36.

-30°C
Date: 6:00 AM EST Sunday 14 February 2016
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -29.8°C
Dewpoint: -35.1°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: NW 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -40

Quote

“By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”
Charles Wadsworth

It seems the same thing is equally true of mother and daughters.

The Gales of November

The first snow squalls of the season arrived this morning, as the day wore on they intensified, melting away between squalls. They were heralded by an event. I was sitting at the table, enjoying a late breakfast, when the house went still and quiet and dim. The hydro was out. The wind blows, the hydro fails, a simple equation, and the stuff of rural living.

Shortly after the hydro went out, the snow blew in, sheets of it. Not a fair trade, in my estimation.

I called the hydro hotline, and reported the outage. The fellow told me there were no other reports, had me check the breakers in the panel, all OK. I could have told him that, the hydro is constantly going out, and it has never been the breakers. So he said he was sending the report directly the repair services department. He also asked me if their follow up call should be made after 11 p.m., “No thank you,” I said. When we wake up in the morning there will either be hydro, or there will not. If not, I will call the hotline again to see what is going on.

I conserved my laptop battery power, the blog entry being the only computer activity that went on while the power was out.

I am in pretty good shape in here, despite the arrival of the first winter storm. The masonry heater will keep on going regardless, and that is why we invested all the money to install this unit, and the time to maintain and use it. I will be warm today, in spite of the complete failure of our traditional electric heating system.

The biggest inconvenience is that when the hydro goes, so does our water supply. No water pump, no tap water, no toilet flushing water. I can manually flush the toilet with the emergency jugs of water that we keep in the basement, at least there is that! Of secondary importance is that we don’t like to open the refrigerator when the power is out, so our food choices are limited. There is a work around for that, by keeping plastic bottles of water on the porch, and using them indoors in a cooler. It is still above freezing now, being early in the season, so that will not work. I hesitate to put any foodstuffs in the screened in porch, the wildlife would have no problem finding a way to help themselves.

It is very fortunate that I did the online legwork for the vehicle purchase yesterday, while we still had power! Sometimes things just work out well, with no planning or strategizing. I love it when that happens.

The CarProof reports arrived today, the vehicle is clean, according to the report. That is the best we can do in the way of looking into the vehicle history, to see if it has experienced any traumatic events.

The power was out for two hours. It made me realize how much the flow of my day is dependent on electricity, as I spent the “down” time puttering with odd jobs, and reading a hardcover book.

Attila came home for lunch, cold, the temperature is dropping out there, as this storm moves in, snow squalls seem imminent. The wind chill factor is significant out there today. A hot lunch helped. A hot supper will help too, and then a roaring fire to sit in front of!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WATCH IN EFFECT
0°C
Date: 3:08 PM EST Wednesday 12 November 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 15 km
Temperature: 0.1°C
Dewpoint: -2.7°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: WSW 15 gust 30 km/h

Quote

“A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
1809 – 1894

Interesting, he starts with the word person, and then seamlessly moves into the masculine he and himself and man.
I’ve often heard that they didn’t know any better, but I don’t believe that. I think they said exactly what they knew, that men were the only real persons walking the earth, and they assumed that women could and would not walk or talk as equals among them. Assumptions are a form of knowing.

Snow Squalls and a Power Outage

As expected, a heavy snow was falling when we got up this morning. It continued throughout the morning. At 11 a.m. the power went out. I have an old telephone that actually works during power outages, so I plugged it in and reported the problem. Apparently over 10,000 people in the area had lost their hydro. Estimated time for restoration of service was 3 p.m. in the afternoon. However, after just an hour and half everything lit up and started up again. And then again this evening, while I was standing at the sink washing the dishes, everything went black. When the lights go out here we are left with an impenetrable blackness. Luckily I keep flashlights all over the house, so I easily found one in the dark. Five minutes later the lights came on again.

I really need to work on a list of projects that can be tackled without the use of electricity. It is a challenge, all food preparation involves electricity in some capacity, even if it is just opening the refrigerator door to take out some eggs. Also, our water is pumped from the well by an electric pump. No electricity means no water. I sat at the kitchen table and started a list of things I could do around the house without electricity. What a sad little list it was: read a book, make the bed, sweep the floor. How dependent we are on electricity!

I could have added shovel snow, but there is getting to be just too much of it for me to handle!

We have had winter with an edge since the beginning of December, with almost three months yet till signs of spring emerge from the white. So I was not at all happy this afternoon when I had to kill a mosquito! It must have been hibernating on the firewood, and awakened in the warmth of the house. It exists no more.

It snowed all day long, it is snowing still, and there is quite an accumulation. Tonight Attila will be out there with the snow blower! He will be clearing the deck of snow tomorrow night, it is already two feet deep. There is going to be a terrific whallop when all this snow comes off the roof!

When I look out the window all I can see is snow. Snow falling from the sky, snow covering every bit of the earth, and now snow covering most of the tree branches and even some of the tree trunks. It is small wonder I write of little else!
Snow in trees DSCF4641

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
Current Conditions Light Snow
-13°C
Date: 7:00 PM EST Wednesday 8 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -12.5°C
Dewpoint: -14.5°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: SSW 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -20

Quote

“Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.”
Earl Wilson

The Drama Queen

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We slept soundly as the house slowly cooled, nested in a sea of cold white, under the bright moon. Attila arose early to fire the heater, and by the time I arose there was a circle of warmth where I could sit and sip my morning coffee. Attila also brought in all the wood I would need to fire the heater again midday. By 10:00 a.m. Mist was sitting in front of the masonry heater, making eyes at me, willing a firing into existence. The midday firing was scheduled for 1 p.m., so Mist eventually lost interest, took herself off to Attila’s seat near the masonry heater, curled up into a ball, and took a cat nap.

When Attila was out of commission one winter with his hernia operation, some years ago, I became responsible for the wood heating system at the country house. I managed to keep us warm and cozy, all by myself. It was very hard work!

I like thermostats, a lot.

Never before have I slept with so little awareness of my context. This began very suddenly, the very first night I slept with the buckwheat husk pillow. Upon awakening I have no idea how long I have been asleep, it might have been ten minutes, a few hours, or a complete uninterrupted night of sleep. If Attila is up and about I will often call out to him, asking him if it is morning. Attila arises in the night to eat, quite frequently, so it is impossible to ascertain the time based on his activities.

I wondered if this loss of context was due to aging. But after spending some nights at the little house in the city, using a polyester loft filled pillow, I know that it is related to the buckwheat husk pillow. With the polyester loft pillow, I know, almost exactly, how long I have been sleeping, and when it is morning.

I do not know that one way of sleeping is better than the other, but I would not give up the buckwheat husk pillow willingly.

It is snowing heavily again, after the lovely blue skies enjoyed yesterday. As the snow comes down, the temperature rises, thus far from -27C to -17C.

I have been thinking about how much I write about winter weather. It is central to everything we do during the winter months. It determines when we see friends and loved ones, when we can travel to purchase supplies, how many hours Attila must spend supplying adequate firewood and shovelling snow, the frequency with which we have to cancel appointments, cleaning ice and snow off car windows… well the list goes on and on and on. Winter Weather is a demanding drama queen in our lives.

I think about how weather-dominated humans have been throughout history. It is only in the last few decades that humans have lost their ancient connections to the planet’s moods. Attila and I seem to be walking backwards in time, out of step with everyone else.

We last purchased food on December 3, 2013. The wonky weather has prevented us from getting into town for supplies. In the pantry we still have several squash, spy apples, and some onions. We have eaten all of our fresh potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, beets, and parsnips. Now we will begin to use the frozen produce that I processed during harvest season, the rutabaga, beets, squash and applesauce. We have some frozen meat, dried pasta, grains, beans, legumes, and rice. We also have a good assortment of herbs and spices. I venture a guess that we would be able to hold out, and enjoy what we have, till Christmas, without procuring additional supplies. For Christmas dinner though, I do like mashed potatoes!

We have been moving away from canned foods. They are not only high in sodium, there is some doubt as to the long-term safety of the plastic lining in the cans themselves. We prefer the taste and quality of frozen foods, and grains, beans, and legumes that we cook ourselves.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This was my big day! After being in the living area of our house since December 3, that is 15 days in the same room, mostly alone with Mist, I had an appointment about an hours drive away. That is an hour under ideal conditions, clear pavement and perfect visibility. I planned this trip. I had my list of things to accomplish, number two on the list was Christmas shopping for Attila’s gift. In the morning Attila spent a good deal of time removing the previous night’s snowfall from my car. It seemed I was ready for my adventure.

I got all dressed up and ready to go, then I headed out to the car. Over three inches of snow had fallen since Attila cleared the car, an hour and half earlier. It took me about fifteen minutes to remove the newly fallen snow. I spent another ten minutes defrosting the windows so that visibility was optimal for driving. It was still snowing heavily as I drove out of the driveway. Our road was not yet ploughed, but I made it to the highway without incident. I slowly turned onto the highway, it had not been ploughed. I drove as far as the village, five kilometers, which took about fifteen minutes. It was a cautious journey, the ruts were powerful and deep, and the other vehicles were going too fast for the condition of the road. A pickup truck tailgated me into the village, he did not pass me though. Even at the low speed I was travelling, the rear end of the car slipped towards the ditch a few times. As I reached the village my decision had been made, there would be no trip into the big town today.

After stopping at the local closed bank to use their machine, I turned the car around and came home again. The trip back was easier because the vehicle in front of me understood the condition of the road, so much so that he was driving along with his four way flashers blinking. I arrived home safe and sound.

Once again winter weather, the Drama Queen of my current existence, had made her powers known. I called and left a message on the answering machine to cancel my appointment. I called Attila to let him know I had not attempted the journey into big town, so that he would not worry.

So, back at the ranch, Mist and I are nestled in for the day, watching the snow fall and feeling lucky to be safe and warm.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

TUESDAY
-19°C
Date: 6:00 AM EST Tuesday 17 December 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -18.5°C
Dewpoint: -20.7°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: ESE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -27

WEDNESDAY

SNOW SQUALL WATCH IN EFFECT
-5°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Wednesday 18 December 2013
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 1 km
Temperature: -5.3°C
Dewpoint: -6.0°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: SW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -9

Quote

“Acquire inner peace and a multitude will find their salvation near you.”
Catherine de Hueck Doherty

This evokes the age old question, “are snowflakes a multitude?” If so, a little bad behaviour on my part may be called for!

Icy Mantle

The main highway has reopened, other roads in the area have been closed. The snow continues to drop like a veil from the sky. Gusts of wind make it difficult to see, even from the living room window; I can just imagine how poor visibility is from the vantage point of a moving vehicle.

A hemlock branch bows under the weight of the snow. Tonight’s high winds should assist the evergreens in shaking off their icy mantles, before they must don another, as the snow squalls continue.
DSCF4115web

There was some kind of activity next door today. It could have been that they are taking out trees, because from time to time I heard a chain saw. What a day to do a yard clean up! Hold on, I resorted to peeking out through the closed blinds, master spy! They had a man in an elevated basket, with a chain saw, lopping smallish branches from the trees. From the sound of all their high volume verbal communication, they were having a great time.

Attila managed to make it home for lunch, but could only get the car into the driveway far enough to get it off the road. Then he had to shovel that out before he could get the car out of the driveway, to go back to work after lunch.

My day began at 3:30 a.m. My first thoughts were a clue to why I needed to be awake. I awoke thinking about a film I recently watched, Amour, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, and Isabelle Huppert among others.

“SYNOPSIS

Georges and Anne are in their eighties.

They are cultivated, retired music teachers.

Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family.

One day, Anne has an attack.

The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.”

Source: Sony Classics

I will think about what this film meant to me until I find myself thinking of it no more. I found it touching and deeply disturbing. So, as the white snow flew through the dark night, I sat thinking about how sad it is, the way illness and vulnerability are dealt with in the modern world. It always touches me deeply when people manage to find dignity in difficult circumstances. The everyday hero/heroine has so much substance.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WARNING IN EFFECT
-11°C
Date: 3:41 PM EST Wednesday 11 December 2013
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -11.0°C
Dewpoint: -14.9°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: NW 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -16

Quote

“Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconsciousness – I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness.”
Aaron Copland
1900 – 1990