Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘cold

Successive Challenges

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Never assume. Sunday night, I neglected to go outside to verify the degree of drifting in the driveway, after the day of strong wind. From the house, we could see the tops of trees swaying dramatically, but by afternoon, there was very little in the way of obvious snow still being swept up by the gusts.

We stayed in and watched the Oscars.

It turns out, drifts grow even when the blowing snow isn’t visibly obvious.

I got up at my usual work-day zero-dark-thirty and did my routine of planks and stretches, then dressed and headed out the door into the predawn darkness.

From the house to just beyond the hay shed, there was no change from when I plowed the day before. As I climbed the hill before the road, the cleared portion of driveway narrowed.

Drifts can be really deceiving. Driving toward them, it’s difficult to discern whether it will be soft, or packed solid. It can also be hard to tell whether they are going to be higher than the clearance of the car.

Since my Crosstrek has been performing so superbly thus far this winter, I forged ahead in hopes of breaking apart the drifts just enough so Cyndie would be able to drive her car out after me. She needed to leave early to lead some training for staff at a school in St. Paul.

It turned out that the drifts had grown significantly since I plowed, they were packed into a very firm density, and they were just tall enough to rub the bottom of my car. Cyndie would never be able to get out in her car, even if I broke through all the way to the road.

Didn’t really matter. I couldn’t break through. Near the top of the hill, forward progress stopped. I tried rocking forward and back, but the car-length I achieved backward only moved me deeper into the drift. I got the car stuck.

I would need to plow. Of all times to be forced to plow, this was really inconvenient. It was dark, I wanted to get on the road to beat traffic, and the air temperature was -5°F with a windchill around -35°F. I was dressed for work, not for being outside.

I intended to make this quick, but circumstances did not allow. The ATV wouldn’t start. The battery was sapped by the cold temperature. I popped the seat off and found the battery was covered by a mouse nest made out of pilfered bits of fiberglass insulation. Nice.

The battery charger was inside the frozen truck, so I had to wrestle with getting the doors open and trying to unwind the inflexible cables. With the jump, I got the ATV started and headed out to clean up just the bare minimum to get our cars through.

The drifts were too dense for the relative light weight of the ATV to push through. I ended up lifting the blade and “paddling” forward on the deep treads of the winter tires, just to break up the drifts. When I got down to the road, I could see that someone had driven by and smashed through a huge drift by our mailbox.

The road was almost as bad as our driveway.

I successfully made several difficult trips back and forth over the hill, each time trying to move a fraction more snow with the blade, but I was a long way from plowing it clean enough for Cyndie’s car to make it out.

Then the cable that lifts the plow blade broke. At that point, there was nothing else left to go wrong.

I blame the frigid temperature. It adds difficulty to everything you try to do. At least the sunrise provided an entertaining backdrop.

I was close enough to being done when the cable broke that Cyndie and I were able to shovel a path out of what remained of the busted up drift. The clearing we achieved was so narrow, I could hear the side of her car rubbing the snow as she drove through the skinniest section, but we both made it out in the end!

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Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2019 at 7:00 am

Saturday Thinking

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It’s a gorgeous winter day today. Seriously cold outside, but wonderful to look at. I don’t know why we find ourselves wondering this morning about where else we might choose to live, if we didn’t live here.

We are pondering the details that would allow us a return trip to visit Ian and family in Portugal.

If we didn’t have animals, we would have a lot more freedom to travel. If we lived closer to family and my workplace, navigating every single event in our lives would be dramatically more convenient.

Maybe grieving opens us up to such thinking. Cyndie is processing family photos and documents in preparation for a funeral service tomorrow for an aunt whom Cyndie had been assigned the responsibility of power of attorney. Caring for her aunt has consumed a majority of her attention for the last nine months.

Back in 2012, when we found this place, one of my early impressions was that we had discovered the place where I would live the rest of my life. It is very conflicting to contemplate the possibility of alternatives.

At the same time, I have gained a keen sense of how everything is always in a constant state of change.

I’m feeling a little lost lately about a question of why we were so lucky to have ended up here with our precious animals and the glorious land and healthy forest, if it wasn’t to share it with others through the cost-offsetting venture of Wintervale Ranch & Retreat Center.

We’ve fallen short of managing to build a revenue generating operation that would allow us to afford running the place without being employed somewhere else for too many critical hours per week.

If we haven’t accomplished the dream we envisioned years ago, what do we do with what remains?

I’m uneasy about the weather effects our warming planet is dishing out and wonder about how to deal with the results. I don’t like the thought of how jumping on airplanes at every whim feeds an industry that, though relatively small, has a disproportionally large impact on the climate system.

One Saturday morning won’t provide the answer to such a complex situation, but it is a chance to put our thoughts together in a kettle to begin simmering. Not that these thoughts haven’t already been simmering for a while now. Maybe we are just turning up the temperature on this kind of thinking today.

And, feeling fresh grief, for the end of another life.

It is really cold here.

We have a fire in the fireplace and our music playing from a random mix of my entire iTunes library.

It’s a Saturday morning, and Cyndie and I are thinking, occasionally out loud, together.

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Written by johnwhays

February 9, 2019 at 11:29 am

Definitely Cold

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This polar vortex is one heck of a weather event, but we are enduring the harshness with general acceptance. I am always amazed that anything still functions at extremely cold temperatures like -31°(F), but at oh-dark-thirty yesterday morning my garage door opener jumped to life at the push of the button, and my car started without complaint, to roll out into the frigid darkness on its rock-hard tires.

As dramatic as the media are being about the danger of this cold wave, many implying that people shouldn’t spend extended time outside or they will die, I hearken back to stories from the 1986 Steger International Polar Expedition. They spent day and night out in temperatures that reached -70°F at times.

We should be able to handle a couple of days of 30-below.

When I got home from work yesterday, the horses were peacefully standing out in the paddock, soaking up the sunshine through their blankets. They are spending nights inside during the super-chill. Cyndie said they now all walk in on their own, one after the other, making their way into their appropriate stalls.

The chickens showed no interest in coming out after the snow last Sunday, so, now that it’s also wicked cold, we don’t even open their door. Yesterday, Cyndie found one beautiful egg in the nest boxes, unfortunately, cracked and frozen.

Cyndie dug out booties for Delilah’s paws, which we haven’t tried since the first attempt was met with total rejection years ago. The results were no different this time. She didn’t like them, but allowed Cyndie to put them all on. A few steps out the door and black boots were kicked in every direction.

It appears the wild rabbits in our vicinity are using activity to keep warm, as their footprints are pounding well-worn paths in the snow. I found a not-so-subtle entrance to a den dug into the snow beside the shop.

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As fast as this vortex from the pole has settled upon us, it will also recede. In its place, the forecast for the coming weekend offers a difference of 70 degrees, with Sunday’s high reaching the mid 40s.

That will definitely feel warm.

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Written by johnwhays

January 31, 2019 at 7:00 am

Flying North

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Today, we fly back to winter, just in time for a blast of snow and Arctic cold air to put an exclamation point on the end of our 9-day visit to Florida. We ate like royalty, played cards, laughed, shopped, explored, watched movies and never wore mittens once.

Yesterday, maybe as a primer for our return, the temperature hovered on the cool side of comfortable, compressing our outdoor activity to a couple matches of bocce ball and a walk back to the house before the next rain shower.

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Barb was the difference maker in both close competitions, despite the missing sunshine that would have allowed for much more relaxed muscles during tosses.

We expect to arrive to the Minneapolis airport in the late afternoon today, and hope to drive the hour toward home without suffering any delays that may result from snow-covered roads.

Whether I will be able to execute my usual commute across the Twin Cities in my return to the day-job tomorrow morning remains a mystery, at this point.

The forecast (as of late last night) is rather ominous:

The predicted high temperature on Wednesday could remain in the double-digits (F) below zero. That will be the warmest part of the day.

One tiny shred of consolation about coming home to this brutal weather, is the fact that the polar vortex pushing down into the middle of the country will have an impact all the way to Florida. Cyndie’s parents had us put the insulating cover on their pool last night, in preparation for the cool week ahead.

Good thing we are going home, so we don’t have to suffer in any of the cold Florida weather they will be dealing with down here.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

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Written by johnwhays

January 27, 2019 at 7:00 am

Revisiting Notes

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All sorts of gems are hidden in the archives of Relative Something posts, and last night I uncovered a jewel to repost today. As exciting as my day yesterday was, what with my landing an appointment with a Craigslist buyer to stop by and make another decluttering purchase, and our new favorite tractor tire repairman showing up to finish the other tire (Yay!), none of it blossomed into a bigger story for me.

The single sentence above easily wrapped up the significant events of the day.

Well, I found a “Words on Images” creation from early 2014 that should fill in nicely, aligning with the oncoming bout of cold and sunny winter-like weather on tap for the next few days here.

In honor of the cat mention included in my poem below, I’m throwing in this bonus picture that Cyndie recently took of Pequenita behaving like royalty on Cyndie’s pillow.

Enjoy!

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Notes

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Words on Images

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Written by johnwhays

December 6, 2018 at 7:00 am

Let’s Move

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When they started out in the brooder five weeks ago, our chicks had plenty of room. They are now getting a little testy with each other over their lack of space.

It’s time to move to the coop.

We probably would have already moved them, except it’s been so cold and snowy.

Now we are expecting a run of warmer weather and they are going to be movin’ on up.

You can see in the photo that they are sprouting enough feathers to reveal their eventual colors. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are showing that golden lacing nicely. They all have a long way to go before maturing into their wattles and combs.

By that time, we will need to have decided whether to let them roam free or keep them confined to protect them from predators. For a while there we felt okay with last year’s experiment, but with the rash of springtime attacks polishing off the last of that brood, it doesn’t feel quite right to not try something different.

We’ll move on that decision when they start to out-grow the coop in a month or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

April Fooling

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We get the joke. Today starts the fourth month of 2018, and despite the general trend of average warmth climbing around the globe, we woke to teeth-chattering cold. The clear sky overnight was wonderful for viewing the blue moon, but it also contributed to the drop in temperature.

We had a reading of 10°(F) before the sun came up. With the fresh coating of snow on the ground from Friday night’s storm, there is cold in the air, as well as radiating from the ground.

We’re not laughing.

It seems like the forest animals weren’t much interested in facing the cold, either. In a search for tracks around the full perimeter of our property, there were surprisingly few foot prints revealing activity. Based on the evidence we collected, a rabbit was the only critter moving around.

At least we know that it didn’t have any problems with dodging predators.

The cougar that growled near Cyndie and Delilah last week is likely long gone after its journey past our home. We did a search in the neighboring woods where the eery sounds came from last week, but did not find any hint of a foot print or disturbed snow where the drama played out.

In a long shot reaction, I mounted our trail camera to observe the trail closest to the area, but it only provided added evidence that nothing was moving around after the snow, except Delilah and me.

Yesterday, Cyndie unleashed a great weapon against cold and snow. She filled the house with the smells of fresh-baked buns and whipped together a couple of egg bakes for a family brunch today.

No foolin’.

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Written by johnwhays

April 1, 2018 at 9:27 am