Monday, January 31, 2011

Waiting for the Cold

At first light the hills appeared as if through thick fog. Possible – it never got terribly cold overnight, so it had to be overcast. But a closer look showed me snowflakes against the window. Impossible – a weather report was actually right? My world is crumbling.

The snow was just a squall and passed off quickly, but it's almost sure to be a sign of things to come. Yesterday's weather report predicted a grim week. I spent the afternoon putting back the covers I'd stripped off M's tractor, and policing tools and paneling from around the Lair site. I'm down to five clean stump sox, so I need to do some laundry this morning. It may take days for the heavy wool to dry. Last night before the light failed I hooked the battery minder to the Jeep's poor dying battery. I should have replaced that thing two winters ago – sad old thing's barely working at all now and can't hold a charge through even a little cold weather.

Propane's in fairly good shape. I want to bake some bread this morning as soon as the batteries have had time to recover, because electricity may be in limited supply if the weather socks in too hard. After laundry I'll top off all the water bottles in case we get another hard freeze. Nothing like the cold snap of last month is forecasted, but the only thing consistent about winter weather in the high desert is the ease with which it makes monkeys of weather forecasters. I got caught with my pants down last month because I was out of the area for a week. Once bitten, and all that.

For all my bitching it's actually been a dry and mild winter so far, but the single exception was a mother and I walked right into it with wide, innocent eyes. I truly desire to be better prepared this time.

The Lair project did it to me again – I'm always running into situations where I can't finish the thing I want to work on until I do something else, something I can't do because I don't have the parts or the tools or something. I've been working on the ceiling under the loft, wanting to finish that so I can hang some of the new lights I scored earlier this month. And I was almost done when it suddenly occurred to me that I was on the cusp of making a terrible mistake. I can't finish paneling that ceiling until I've mounted the posts for the loft railing, and I can't mount the posts until I've cut the four 4X6 posts and acquired eight big bolts, and drilled their mounting holes. I don't have the bolts, and I can't cut the posts because I need the help of my neighbor D and his workshop, and D can't help because he's spending this part of the winter in the hospital getting his knee replaced. Shite! It's always something.

I went and talked to his wife L on Saturday – not about the posts, that would be rude – and she said he's due out today. I should go by and pay my respects. Maybe I should bring them a pot of something just to be a good neighbor. But I've done that before and L isn't always terribly discreet about the fact that she doesn't like my cooking. I've a feeling that the last loaf of bread I brought them fed their dogs.

Speaking of dogs, I'm low on treats. And peanut butter. What I really want is a bottle of booze, but that's a poor use of funds when I absolutely must keep an eye on the propane. I've been riding into town with J every other week or so, and he's willing to drive me out to the filling station but has made it pretty clear he doesn't enjoy it. So I should save enough cash to get more bottles filled all at once, but that means pushing my reserves. Decisions, decisions.

What I should really do is abandon the Interim Lair entirely. The Lair's heating works great, which means I wouldn't be blowing so much money on propane. True, the plumbing isn't on line. But it hasn't worked here for a month, so what the hell? I could install the Plan B chair in the bathroom, set up a basin and my cookstove on that big folding table, and I'd really be in pretty good shape except for the boys. The boys have increasingly made it clear to me that that front yard fence must be moved up the priority queue. Alone, Ghost runs off but he always comes back. Together with Little Bear, they just run off and forget that last part. Then I have to drop what I'm doing and go find them. With a fenced yard they'd be comfortable – or at least constrained – enough that they'd have the time to settle down and start seeing the Lair as home. Once they do that they'll be all right.

No, we're not ready to move to the Lair. Or maybe that's just another excuse. Inertia's a bitch. I'm getting old. I just need to keep bringing them with me on work sessions, stay conscientious about keeping LB cabled up, and live with it. Right now they see the Lair as a place we visit for periods of time and then go home – that's not their fault.

LB's giving me that look that says he really needs to go outside now. Time to head for the scriptorium, post this, and get on with my day. Have I mentioned I really hate winter?


suek said...

When you bake that bread, hang your wet wool socks in close proximity... That might do the trick. It'll make your cabin smell funny, but it'll also increase your humidity, which isn't a bad thing in cold weather.

Or hang them out at night - the freezing temps will tend to suck the moisture out of them.

"I'm always running into situations where I can't finish the thing I want to work on until I do something else, something I can't do because I don't have the parts or the tools or something."

In my mind, I call this the "This is the House that Jack Built" syndrome. If you remember the old rhyme, you'll probably know why... I find it relevant way too often.

MamaLiberty said...

I really sympathize, Joel. There are so many things I'd like to do, but need someone with a strong back and arms to do the lifting, moving and building parts. And the "move something" to "get at something" and put the first something back gets mighty old - but the alternative seems mostly to be throwing away stuff I really do need and use.

It has been right around zero all day today, supposed to crash to -20 tonight. Hope it doesn't get that cold there. :)

And yes, this year I'm getting really tired of winter - and ours won't really be over until darn near May. sigh