Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘Rain

Good Start

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Blessed with a day between drenching rains, yesterday we made great headway on the deck resurfacing project. Mike arrived about the same time daylight did and Cyndie primed our energies with a grand breakfast feast in preparation for the long day of labor ahead. Setting the first board required immediate customization, which is a part of the project I would have struggled to accomplish without Mike’s wisdom and experience.

After solving that challenge, the work settled into a board-placing routine that wasn’t particularly complicated but tended to eat up bigger chunks of time just doing than it seems it should.

Along the way, there were pauses to re-measure spacing and then tweaking the board gaps. Even simple board selection adds minutes, pondering how to minimize waste while selecting around imperfections in the lumber.

Eventually, we would reach a railing post and be faced with doing some customized cuts to enclose the obstruction. For the post below, Mike engineered two pieces that required multiple cuts which resulted in a pretty slick looking continued flow.

The thinking involved to plot where seams fall gets a little mind-boggling for me, but Mike helped to achieve a repeating pattern that I really like.

By lunch we had covered the bottom level, which was honestly my main goal, knowing in advance that progress most likely would be hampered by something. Nothing I have ever worked on goes so smoothly that I get more done than expected.

Most important for me was proving the process. I thought I would be able to do this in place of hiring professionals, but I was a little wary about the unknowns like detailing around the railing, mastering the seams and spacing, and even where to start, and how to finish the last board.

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We’ve got boards cut to length and positioned, but not all of them screwed down yet. By the end of the day, we probably were just under halfway finished with the resurfacing. There is a lot of lumber yet to replace, but the number of complicated decisions left to be addressed should be less.

If we ever get another dry weather day, maybe I can work more on the project.

Actually, today’s rain has me wondering if we shouldn’t have skipped the deck project and focused on building a boat that could hold us and our pets instead. I’m worried our house might just float away if it keeps up like this, and we live on top of a hill!

Apparently, the atmosphere holds more moisture when the planet warms and is able to dump more precipitation as a result.

I wonder if we have any circumstantial evidence to back that up.

I wish I could remember where we put our PFDs.

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Written by johnwhays

October 5, 2019 at 9:56 am

Wettest Wetness

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It’s official. With the end of September earlier this week came the close of what Hydrologists consider the 12-month “water year” according to my favorite weather blog, Updraft. Beginning October 1, 2018, and running to the end of September 30, 2019, we endured the wettest water year on record.

The start of the 2019-2020 water year is not wasting any time in preparing to make a run at challenging that record. Water is actually bubbling up out of the soil in some places on our land where the pressure of groundwater uphill from us is pushing it to the surface, allowing it to then flow away down our drainage ditch to ever lower elevations.

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Tuesday night, after closing the chicken door upon returning from our class in River Falls, I stopped at one of our two rain gauges. There were 2.5 inches collected, but I wasn’t certain how many days that represented. I dumped it to start fresh but forgot to mention this to Cyndie.

Yesterday, she struggled to reconcile the low collection in the gauge by the house, wondering if it might be leaking or something.

Oops. My bad.

The gauge on a fence post down by the labyrinth made a little more sense with its 2.5-inch amount. It is common to see some disparity between the two, but both easily depict whether we are receiving small or large amounts of precipitation in random blocks of collection time.

Suffice it to say, our land is unbelievably wet right now. Soggy pretty much describes everything.

I think we are gonna need a bigger boat.

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Written by johnwhays

October 3, 2019 at 6:00 am

Always Falling

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I never realized before owning acres of forest how consistently trees fall over. Something is always falling, whether we are around to hear it or not. Behind the barn sometime overnight an old dead snag gave up its vertical position to gravity.

I am glad it wasn’t any taller or there’d have been a dent in the barn roof.

This morning dawned soaking wet. Delilah had no interest in an extended walk before her breakfast and took every shortcut possible to show me her goal of getting back to the house after she had taken care of all her important business. I would have been happy to accommodate her, except we had some chickens also interested in a morning snack.

At least that gave Delilah a chance to take a pause inside the barn while I was opening the chicken door and throwing out some feed. She busies herself with futile attempts leaping toward the rafters in naive hope she might catch one of the pigeons roosting up high. I figure it’s good exercise for her.

Due to the rain, my deck project is halted just as I was beginning to get some momentum in removing screws and nails. I’ve decided to leave the boards in place after detaching them, giving something to [carefully!] walk on in place of just the joists. By flipping the boards over, it is easy to see which are no longer attached.

Step on at your own risk.

I also slid in one of the new boards to confirm the dimensions are what I was expecting. These are not what are considered deck boards by today’s standards. The person delivering the lumber called me with concern there might have been a mistake on the order, after Cyndie told him it was for our deck.

The deck was built long enough ago that they spaced the joists 24-inches on center and used 2×6 boards for the top surface. Now decks use 1-1/4-inch thick boards and require narrower joist spacing. The cheapest fix for our rotting boards was to replace them with treated boards in the original dimensions.

It’s like falling off a log, if you know what I mean.

And I know a lot about falling “logs.”

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Written by johnwhays

September 29, 2019 at 10:07 am

Duly Moved

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Last night I watched the award-winning documentary, Free Solo about Alex Honnold’s epic climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. What a masterpiece of a film! I highly recommend it. I was duly moved by the intimate glimpse into Alex’s life, and the inclusion of the emotional challenges of those around him coping with the immensity of the monumental risk he was facing in his quest to climb that granite monolith without ropes.

Alex points out that any of us could die at any moment, whether doing something risky, or not. I tend to avoid things with a high risk of death whenever possible, but it is true that my life could end at any time. One way I interpret his thinking is to frame myself as “free soloing” all the time.

It made my walk with Delilah a little more exciting than normal after the movie.

She suffered a bit of a panic inside her overnight safe-space crate yesterday morning when a rowdy thunderstorm rumbled over top of us at oh-dark-thirty. I didn’t have much success trying to assure her we weren’t in jeopardy as I prepared to leave for work, which made it rather stressful for me to walk out the door and leave her alone until Maddie was due to show up an hour or two later.

I soothed myself by considering how she would greet me when I got home at the end of the day, as if clueless that anything out of the ordinary had happened earlier, which turned out to be true. She did.

We then made the rounds on the property, hiking the perimeter trails and surveying the results of the wild weather. There were 2.5 inches of rain in the gauge and the ground is fully saturated, but no new-fallen trees or limbs, thank goodness. That much rain, or more, is expected to fall before this weather event is done and gone.

We will carry on and survive to the best of our ability, even though I now have this new sense that I am doing it all without the benefit of any ropes.

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Written by johnwhays

September 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

Month’s Worth?

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Many times I have wondered what it must have been like to live before there was a national weather service and electronic communication to spread forecasts for days ahead. If that were the case today, I’d have no idea there might be a lot of rain on the way this week.

The prediction suggests a possibility of receiving a month’s worth of rain by the end of the week.

Yesterday afternoon, I emptied a half-inch from the rain gauge at the top of our hill and a full inch from the one by the labyrinth. If the graphic on the right proves accurate, we could receive 3 to 4 more inches, or beyond.

Our home is located just above and between the words Red Wing where the graphic shows the darker red color marked by the yellow cloud as “Locally Higher Amounts.”

Higher than three or four inches? Oh, joy.

It is just a forecast, though, and doesn’t come with a guarantee of that amount of rain actually falling here.

The land is already wet, so any amount of rain will add a level of significance to this. All I can do is watch what happens and respond as issues arise.

We are approaching a time when it won’t be possible to use a measure like “month’s worth.” We won’t know what constitutes a month’s worth of rain when the pace of change in our planet’s climate starts to run away exponentially.

There are countless reports that such a result lies ahead in our future. We just don’t have a firm universal prediction pinning down the timing of how soon it might occur.

I have a sneaking suspicion it could end up being within my lifetime.

I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

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Written by johnwhays

September 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Free Show

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Nature put on quite a show last night. We swung from oppressive heat and humidity in the afternoon to a sky-mazing thunderstorm that moved in with such darkness it got the chickens to enter the coop an hour early. Well, full disclosure: it took a little coercion from Cyndie to get the last two to move inside because there was still a sliver of daylight visible in the sky, opposite the direction from which the storm was approaching.

They weren’t all being fooled.

Cyndie dashed back in the house just before the full force of the deluge began to pound down. We received about an inch and a half of rain in roughly an hour’s time.

From inside the house, it was unclear how severe the wind gusted, but there was enough to open a rare, but not unprecedented, leak over the toilet in the bathroom. Only certain combinations of wind and water trigger that short-lived breach of our shingles.

Earlier, Cyndie had already reported the dramatic storm that rolled over us on Sunday night (which I successfully slept through) had tipped a tree that is now leaning across the west border trail in our woods. There will need to be additional reconnaissance later today to check for even newer toppled trees or branches from this storm.

During the roar of the downpour, it was hard to hear how much thunder there was, but based on Delilah’s reaction, it was occurring regularly. After the rain stopped, it seemed like the lightning and thunder became more intense. I know the dog’s barking sure did.

As the sun sank closer to the horizon, the back side of the storm clouds moved clear to allow for a nice double rainbow. At the time, there were still some spectacular flashes of lightning happening, so it provided quite a visual splendor.

The rain brought down the temperature to a more comfortable level, but the humidity still lingered. Unfortunately, our normally wonderful geothermal AC system is displaying a fault that showed up before bedtime, so we opened up the windows for the relatively fresh overnight air.

The storm offered a dramatic weather show for free, but I don’t think the AC service call today will produce anywhere near that kind of a bargain.

Frankly, though, when the weather is oppressively uncomfortable, functioning air conditioning almost always seems worth the expense.

A bargain at any cost, you might say.

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Written by johnwhays

July 16, 2019 at 6:00 am

Weather Fatigue

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I succeeded in getting all our grass and innumerable dandelions mowed Sunday. I have one peeve about mowing this time of year, when the lovely yellow flowering weed is at its peak and starting to go to seed.

Do you see it? All that grass so freshly cut and one 10-inch dandelion stem sticking out like a sore thumb. There were others, but that one just stood out so defiantly, I couldn’t help but stop and take a picture. Then I snapped it off by hand.

Mowing dandelions can be a frustrating endeavor for a perfectionist.

Like the meteorologists predicted, Memorial Day was a total washout. It reminds me of two years ago this month when I had tried to host a day of cycling with friends in preparation for the Tour of Minnesota.

I captured this memory from that day:

I have gotten smarter about trying to make outdoor plans that prefer sunny, warm weather. I simply don’t make them. Yesterday, we responded precisely as a cold, rainy day deserves, snuggling back in bed for some extra reading and napping.

Pequenita was all in with that plan.

She doesn’t have a problem with this weather. Personally, I am getting worn down by this chilly rain pattern we have endured so far this spring. Sure, I wouldn’t mind if I could curl up and nap all day, but the landscape doesn’t stop growing just because it’s not sunny and warm outside.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and this trend will peter out by the time the bike trip kicks off in the middle of June.

It would help my frame of mind greatly if that were to happen because we are headed far enough north for this year’s route that cold and rainy could translate into a little sleety/snowy, if you know what I mean.

That would definitely exacerbate my current case of weather fatigue.

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Written by johnwhays

May 28, 2019 at 6:00 am