The Weekend

Friday, February 27, 2015

Last night may have been our coldest night of the winter here at the little house in the city! This morning, early, around 6:00 a.m., around the time the temperature usually dips to its lowest point, the house gave one loud, resounding “crack”! This happens frequently at the country house, as the temperature difference between the arctic outdoors and the warm indoors causes sudden, violent contraction in the frame of the house. At the little house in the city, this was the first time I had heard that sound! Cold!

The sun came out strong and bright this morning, but I did not head out there until it managed to warm the world a bit!

My project for today is motivated by the warming temperatures. The thermometer mounted on the exterior wall of our back porch, in the sun, read -4C this afternoon. That is quite a jump, from -29c, to -4C! The heat pump is configured to heat the house when the temperature rises above -7C. It is installed along the north wall of the house, where the sun does not shine and today’s temperature did not rise above -7C. That was today. Warmer weather is on the way though, if the weather people are even close to reality in their predictions. It was time to remove the winter snow load from the heat pump.

Before removing the snow from heat pump, I had to reach it. Not an easy task. First I had to shovel through the high snow bank at the side of the driveway, to make an opening. Then the path to the front door was shovelled out, the snow below the crust was like dry sand, slippery, heavy dry sand. Clearing the path to the front porch was a big job. Then the porch itself needed to be shovelled off, which took a bit more time. Then it was time for a short break, standing looking at the blue sky, listening to a bird song, which was a real treat.

Back to work again. Using a dustpan to remove the light top layer of snow, about a foot and half deep, I scooped my way towards the north end of the house. When I stepped onto the light crust of snow that I had just exposed, my foot went into it to the top of my boot. Scooping and stepping, I slowly crossed in front of the house and down the north wall of the house to the heat pump. Again using the dustpan, the snow was removed from the top of the heat pump, and deep snow cleared well away from the base. Having accomplished this, I headed back to towards the driveway to fetch the snow shovel.

It was a hard slog, shovelling out that sand like snow from the path I have created to the heat pump. I did it though! Now it will be possible to check on the heat pump when the temperature rises above -7C.

The rest of my day consisted of working away at my genealogy book. I ran into a few more problems with the images, it took several hours to remedy that problem. The other time consuming sidetrack I followed, was doing a bit of additional research on individuals for whom no conclusive records have been found. These people are GGG Granduncles and GGG Grandaunts, for whom I have birth records from Scotland. Other researchers studying my ancestors, and theirs, have attributed identities to these individuals based on speculation about their later lives. Not a good idea. They may be correct, but then again, they may not be correct in claiming these familial connections. I decided to write about the available evidence, and suggest what further research needed to be done in order to confirm connections, or perhaps discover connections. Very time consuming, but fun.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March! This is the last month of winter! In four short weeks, which will seem long, a snow storm will be considered an outlier, an anomaly, something that will discourage those waiting for spring, but will also disappear quickly. March is my least favourite month of the year! Foolishly, Attila and I were married in the month of March, thinking that adding something to celebrate to this long difficult month would brighten it up. So far, that ambition has proven false. Usually there is some sort of ice storm, or blizzard, going on around our anniversary, so that we are hunkered down at home, trying to keep the house warm, chopping wood, and sometimes enduring a power failure. Still, we live in hope! When/if we finally move to the little house in the city, it could be that March will not be quite as harsh. I will be staying at the little house in the city for the month of March this year, so it will be interesting to watch how spring progresses, or does not progress, over the next few weeks. We will be celebrating our anniversary over FaceTime, but anticipate a modest celebration during Attila’s overnight March visit, when gets his winter “once a month” Saturday off work.

I am sitting in the kitchen and feeling relieved. I had procrastinated on pouring hot water into the heat pump, figuring that it was going to be quite cold during the night and that I would end up with more ice than I started with. Cool air is blowing over my feet as I sit here, which is what happens when the heat pump is circulating air as it warms the outdoor coil to melt any ice that may be on it. It seems to me it is working! The house is once again being heated by the heat pump.

A busy week awaits, physiotherapy, laundry at the laundromat, yoga, a trip to the pharmacy to fill a prescription… sounds dull, but in my world this is a whirlwind of activity! If I were at the country house there would be no list at all, I would be sitting in the bush dragging through the last weeks of winter, in isolation. The contrast in lifestyle between our two properties is shocking in the experience of it, although it doesn’t really sound like such a big deal, it is.

Worldly Distractions


Little House in the City

Date: 5:00 AM EST Friday 27 February 2015
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: rising
Temperature: -23.9°C
Dewpoint: -27.2°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: NNW 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -39

Country House

Date: 6:00 AM EST Friday 27 February 2015
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -31.9°C
Dewpoint: -35.2°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: SSE 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -37

Little House in the City
Date: 6:00 AM EST Saturday 28 February 2015
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 104.1 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -22.0°C
Dewpoint: -24.2°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: E 3 km/h
Wind Chill: -26

Country House
Date: 7:00 AM EST Saturday 28 February 2015
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 104.0 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -28.1°C
Dewpoint: -30.9°C
Humidity: 77%
Wind: SE 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -32

Little House in the City
Date: 11:13 AM EST Sunday 1 March 2015
Condition: Light Snowshower
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -7.3°C
Dewpoint: -9.4°C
Humidity: 85%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -14

Country House
Date: 12:00 PM EST Sunday 1 March 2015
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -5.9°C
Dewpoint: -13.4°C
Humidity: 56%
Wind: WSW 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -11


“I still need more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently.”
Ernest Hemingway
1899 – 1961

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I was just thinking – what if we were not allowed to talk/write/speak about the weather. To anyone. What would we say these days in our blogs? Journals? To each other? It’s so pervasive, “the Weather” – it takes control of everything. Is weather a much bigger deal for adults than for children? I don’t remember ever asking about the weather as a kid. If it snowed, I delighted in building igloos and staying out til my hands and toes were frozen solid. Now, I look out my front door to all that white (we got another 2 inches overnight here) and when I turn back into the house, I am “snow-blinded” – for a little while. Anyway, I want it to disappear and it’s not going to oblige, I just know it!

TopsyTurvy (Teri)

Our snow is withdrawing and compacting a bit today, thanks to warmer temps (-5C or about 23F) and sunxhine for most of the day. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be getting more snow tomorrow. Maybe 3-6 inches worth. Just what we don’t need. Then again, if this is the price for moving into a normal spring weather cycle, I’m all for it!

My childhood winters were quite different from yours and Bex’s. Since I was a young child in Seattle, winter snows were few and far between. I can only remember 2 of them and have pictures of a third from when I was about 4. The picture is of my grandfather and I standing beside a snowman we’d built. I both remember and have a picture of my mother and a snowman we built together when I was maybe 9 or 10. I remember she ran across the street to the house and carried a pot of hot water back to pour over the snowman, so he would freeze instantly and last longer. And another memory of trying to sled in the snow but it was actually too deep (8inches, maybe?) for the runners on my sled.

Other than those 3 times, I have no knowledge of or memories of snow in my childhood. Just days of rain or fog, and winter temps almost always above freezing.

My teen years in New England were, of course, different. There was a great deal of snow there in the winter, and I can remember walking past snow banks that were almost as tall as I was. By that time, it was just something to get through – except maybe enjoying the falling flakes or the pristine white of the neighbor’s backyard when looking out the window.

Honestly, I’d still rather have my Seattle winters rather than these extremely snowy ones.


Teri, I have a question… why pour “hot” water over the snowman to make him freeze… why not “cold” water? Wouldn’t he just melt away with the hot water? 😉

TopsyTurvy (Teri)

Hot water won’t freeze faster than cold water Bex but it will freeze faster than lukewarm water. It has to do with the exchange of temperature.

“It all depends on how fast the cooling occurs, and it turns out that hot water will not freeze before cold water but will freeze before lukewarm water. Water at 100 degrees C, for example, will freeze before water warmer than 60 degrees C but not before water cooler than 60 degrees C. This phenomenon is particularly evident when the surface area that cools by rapid evaporation is large compared with the amount of water involved, such as when you wash a car with hot water on a cold winter day. [For reference, look at Conceptual Physics, by Paul G. Hewitt (HarperCollins, 1993).

Irene Bean

My days of isolation can *fill* quickly with a couple of visitors and phone calls. I no longer do errands or go to the doctor, but a few entertaining diversions make me plump with happiness. It really doesn’t take much, does it? Love.