Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Survived Another One

Polar vortex, that is.  

As I'm writing this it's still only -3F, but that's a huge improvement over the -19F we were this morning.  I think we hit a high of 0F this afternoon which was almost balmy.  When we get back to the 20's which is forecast for later this week we'll be running around in our shirtsleeves.

But this morning when I first stepped outside, I knew it was cold since my first deep breath resulted in my nostrils freezing up.    This is a really weird sensation if you've never experienced it, and doesn't last too long, that is unless you quit breathing.  And if that happens, well, then you've got more problems than frozen nostrils, I'm afraid.  

The dogs went out with me to tend to my morning chores, but they were done with their business of making yellow snow and back in the house in under a minute.  There was no dilly-dallying.  

I grabbed the garbage can and headed out to the road to plunk it in a snowbank and then trudged over to the mailbox to mail the land tax bill.  Our mailbox has been hit by the snowplow three times already this year and the lid doesn't fit very well any more but with some persuasion on my part, I managed to pound it shut and get the flag hoisted.   

Our driveway is a shifting dune of snow.  Carl made it out to go to work, but the Oldsmobile (yes, he's still driving the 1989) dragged bottom the entire way.  I raised my sleep apnea mask this morning when he left and told him if he needed help shoveling his way out, hey, just let me know, and then promptly passed out again.  He didn't wake me, and he didn't shovel either.  The car did all the work. 

After I got back to the house, I blazed a trail to the chicken coop armed with a big scoop shovel.  The goat trail I've plowed is only a shovel-width wide because I'm too lazy to take two swats and the drifts are over 3' high on either side.   

When I finally reached the coop, I spent another five minutes shoveling out the area where the door swings open.  The door was frozen shut, so I plodded back to the garage, found a trowel and pried it open.  The Girls were glad to see me since I had a treat of leftovers from the house.  They love bread.  And vegetable scraps.  And meat.  Especially meat. 

 I checked to make sure their water supply wasn't frozen (we keep it perched on top of a heated dog water bowl) and their feed was full and reluctantly shut the door on their happy clucking.   With the heat lamp on in this extreme cold, it's daylight 24 hours a day in the coop which must be like living in Alaska.  

After tossing a bit of bird seed out for the wild birds, my feet and fingers were already starting to hurt, so it was time to go in.  I grabbed a Leslie video and walk, walk, walked for five miles.  I was sweating when I got done.

Our furnace is still running quite steadily, but we are lucky since we have geothermal heat.  Some of our neighbors heat their homes with propane and that's another story.  There is a propane shortage and the fuel is being rationed and must be paid for before the delivery person will pump from the truck.   No one is getting a full tank of propane, I've heard the limit is 150 gallons which, when it's -20F, doesn't take long to go through.  The price is also skyrocketing which is a darn shame. This happened to us when we were using fuel oil a few years ago as a heating source, too, and I feel for them.  There's nothing you can do but pay the bill and hope you don't run out before the cold weather ends.   

I spent the afternoon working on cleaning up the Daffodil lamp from last winter's work.  More on that to come, but I told Carl if he EVER uses the type of solder he used on this lamp again, I quit as clean-up person.  He assured me he won't make that mistake again. He used a rosin core solder someone had given him, and it makes a big mess.
 Normally I would have cleaned the wax, flux and other goo off of the lamp immediately, but this shade was done late last spring and we jumped right into gardening, so it sat, uncleaned for almost a year.  Actually, I don't think the grime hurt the shade at all, because now instead of being ultra-sticky, it's sorta dried up and flakes off in most spots.  It's just a long, drawn-out job.

When Carl came home from work, he went up to Mom's and retrieved her newspaper from where the delivery person flung it in the driveway.  I can't figure that one out, I have her mailbox cleared of snow, but every day they whip the paper out in the middle of her yard.  The paper is stuffed into a plastic bag to keep it dry, but we have to search for it since it's drifted over.   I'll have to take a look at her mailbox tomorrow, it can't be too bad, since the mailman hasn't complained.  Carl retrieved her mail right from his car window, so go figure.  I don't like Mom going outside when it's this cold if I can help it.  

When Carl came back down here, he spent another ten minutes driving back and forth in the driveway with the Olds again, plowing a trail with the car.  I didn't want to start the tractor in this frigid weather, but tomorrow will be a warmer day and we'll get this situation fixed.

I continued working on the Daffodil shade until 5PM.  I finally had to quit, I was cramped up from the uncomfortable position and so restless; except for tending the hens, I hadn't been outside for 24 hours.  Taking a peek at the thermometer reading -1F, it was time to go skiing again.  

I put on my snowpants, ski boots and scarf, coat and gloves, grabbed the skis off the dining room wall (yes, I keep them in the house after skiing so the snow and ice melts out of the bindings) snatched up my poles and headed out to do battle with the elements again. 

My nose didn't freeze up like it had done this morning, so I took that as a good sign.  The wind whipping around the north side of the White Pines did take my breath away, but it wasn't too bad.  The worst part was crossing the field where there are no trees for a shelter belt, for that fifteen minute stretch I started to get a brain freeze.  

If you're not familiar with a brain freeze, have you ever eaten ice cream too quickly or chewed on an ice cube and had the top of your head start to hurt?  Well, for me, the cold wind brings the sensation on quickly.  The windchills were still in the -20F range and pretty brisk, around 13mph, so I started skiing a whole lot faster to get to the trees again.  On the way home I simply turned my back into the wind and skied southeast with the wind until I reached the White Pines.  I made a few laps around the garden and through the trees and back again and after an hour, I was ready to come in.  The cold air was refreshing and the break I needed.  

So, there you have it, a look into my scintillating activities on yet another Polar Vortexed Day in Wisconsin.  

Stay tuned for another exciting adventure into 'Cleaning Gunk Off Lamps' coming up soon.



Larry said...

Thanks for visiting Karen… the daff is stunning! I personally am quite fussy when it comes to choosing my solder and have in the past regretted using some of the less expensive choices. I pretty much stick with Canfield 60 40 because it is so free of impurities. By the way… clean-up of shades is my most despised part of creating lamps… a necessary evil if you will!
Yes the heat situation is a concern… I thought I would freeze to death this past evening and went to bed earlier with many layers, only to wake up even colder from sweating under all those same layers.
I have been busy in the woodshop framing my latest piece but soon will be back to cutting glass, and you know how poorly that goes if the glass is too cold… I will have no choice but to raise the heat… and still the exporting of LP continues… some of the things that take place in this country amaze me… Larry

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Oh my gosh Karen, nostrils and brain freezing!!! That's way too much for me to deal with. I turned on the a.c. yesterday and it's still on, but only coming on when it's needed in here. I worked outside the last two days on an funky project and the weather was beautiful. I'm trying to get a lot done before summer gets here.

Your lamp is beautiful! The tedious work of any craft is the part most of us would rather do without, but it is necessary.

I hope today is a warmer one for you.

Love and hugs ~ Rainey a.k.a. FlowerLady

sharon malueg said...

Karen way to cold for me out there. Don't know how you can stand an hour out there, I would have to have on five or more layers and then I wouldn't be able to walk!!Levi too is doing his business in record time. Love the daffodil lamp, the yellow is stunning. Hopefully this living in Alaska ends soon. Stay warm and safe..

Junebug said...

WOW, I can't believe you go out in that freezing weather. I'm feeling guilty in our 47 degrees this morning. Have I ever told you that daffodil lamp is my all time favorite. It could be that I love that flower. Gorgeous!! Please stay warm and no more frozen any parts!!! Hugs!

HolleyGarden said...

Oh, I feel for you, Karen. I don't like the cold very much, and I can't even imagine going outside in those temperatures! I feel for the animals that have to be out there in it, too. I had no idea there was a limit on propane. That is what we use to heat our house. I guess there's not as much demand here. Most homes use electricity for heat around here.

Beth said...

Hi Karen, Thanks for your humorous take on the polar vortices/vortexes and how you're coping! Your writing makes me smile. Your daffodil lamp is absolutely amazing! Visions of daffodils in days to come may help us make it through the last few weeks of winter. :)
Hugs, Beth

Stephen Andrew said...

Oh the lamp is stunning! Geothermal is no doubt the wave of the future. At least I hope so. My brother is in OSU's geology program and plans to work in geothermal.

africanaussie said...

Having parts of your body not functioning because they are freezing sounds pretty horrific to me! I do love the sound of your cross country skiing - I tried it once and it was great fun. Of course that was on a beautiful sunny day :) I remember that lamp - one of my favourites. You didnt make another one this year?

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Thanks so much for your visit and kind comments!!
It is cold here, 2 degrees this morning but relief is in sight for the weekend. Joe will be happy. He has really hated delivering the mail in this weather.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

OMG! Frozen nostrils, does that bring back memories from living in Alaska! That was such a weird sensation the very first time it happened. Thought there were icicles growing inside! LOL
Your lamp is stunning! So bright and cheery.
I remembering having a love hate relationship with the snowplows. Loved them when they showed up, but hated them when they'd block in the car with a pile of snow. We had assigned parking spots so parking elsewhere wasn't an option. So out I'd go to shovel the car out. ah such fun ;)
I do miss it though.
I'm just super happy this morning...we are finally receiving rain for the first time this year!! My garden is in heaven drinking it all in.
The air needed a good washing! LOL
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

I can say, you do have the horrid weather. I guess -3 is a step up though. We have been at -4 and -20 with wind. I know what you mean though on the freezing body parts. My nose gets it too. I learned something. I did not know chickens eat meat. My cockatoo does, but I did not not ever think chickens did. Do they eat eggs too. My cockatoo loves eggs.

Karen said...

Larry, the propane situation seems almost conspiratorial. I do hope the weather and situation improves soon. Rosin core solder is NOT my friend, lol.

Rainey, I always take a break and enjoy your postings in sunny Florida, it's good for what ails me.

Sharon, lol, if it weren't for the skiing I'd be running stark raving loony by now. This has been a long winter, hasn't it?

June, winter is my Friend, since I can be as lazy as I want, lol, but the extreme cold has been a little over the top for even me. I'm glad you like the daffodil; it was a fun lamp to build.

Holley, I find it interesting there's seemingly no shortage of propane in your area; as you said, though, it's probably not as high in demand as it has been here due to our Polar antics.

Beth, I'm still coveting your hydrangeas from your post, those beauties are gorgeous!

Stephen, yes, I think geothermal has a lot of potential. We've had our furnace since 2009 and have been very pleased. I think your brother is on a great career path.

africanaussie, yes, I do have to keep tabs on the parts of my body that might be literally freezing, frostbite is no fun! Skiing is though, as you know. We are working on a big wisteria lamp this winter, and it's almost ready for soldering. I've got an allamanda shade ready for layout, too. We're just slow this winter, for some reason!

Debbie, I can well imagine how awful it must be to have to deliver mail in this weather and in the snow and ice. We're a little warmer today, but more snow again.

Deb, at last, a person who knows what it's like to have their nose freeze up, lol. I wondered if anyone would find that unbelievable, but it really does happen. Snowplows make me crabby too, ours went by tonight just as I had the yard plowed out. I'm glad you're getting some rain, I dislike drought situations very much.

Donna, yes, the chickens will eat their own eggs if they somehow manage to break one. Talk about cannibalistic behavior, right? When raising chicks, if one of them gets pecked and starts bleeding, the rest of the flock will peck them to death. The sight of blood will drive the aggression. Meat is a delicacy for the hens, they absolutely love it.