February Chill

Saying it’s cold in February is like saying ‘water is wet‘.   It’s just something that you accept as being factual.  Of course, unless you’re living under a rock currently, you’re aware there’s a major cold snap happening in the southern United States, and people there are learning what it’s like to live in New England, or the Midwest in wintertime.  The language of frozen pipes and using a hairdryer to keep your water pump going is quickly being learned in places where such contraptions were unheard of before.   Just because we’ve increasingly become involved in a more modern world, with advanced devices doesn’t mean Mother Nature can’t throw a spanner into the works.

Up here in the Northeast, we expect every February there’s going to be a day or few days where the temperature is going to get below zero.  It’s expected.  In some ways, if it doesn’t happen, it goes down in the calendar as an unusual year.  I remember when I was working at my previous employer, back in ’95 or ’97 the temperature got down to about -17°F/-22°C.  I think that was about the only time in my recollection I was unable to get my vehicle started due to the cold.  I had to get a jump from the local garage.  Fortunately, I had AAA at the time (still do, even though we only use it every once in a Blue Moon it’s still something good to have) and they got the truck started (at the time I was driving a 1987 Ford Bronco II) and I was on my way home in due time.

Going by what the NWS (National Weather Service) is saying, today’s 3°F/-16°C is probably going to be the low temperature for this area for the winter of 2020-21.  Starting this weekend we’re due for a warming trend, and it will last until the end of the month.  Starting in March, temperatures are going to typically be in the 30s and 40s, and winter will be over completely later that month.  Even Easter is going to be early this year, in the beginning of April.

According to the thermometer, it’s already nearly 20°F/-6.6°C outside, so the cold snap is over.  Supposedly we’re getting another winter type storm tomorrow, but it’s not going to be as much as we ended up not getting yesterday.  At any rate I was able to take my snowblower out for another spin, and I got enough gas to last me for the remainder of the winter, and I can use it for the lawn mower in another couple of months.

I think tonight will only be a 2 blanket night with a comforter.  I might even sleep without my socks.  We’ll see.

Onset of Fall

(9/15) I woke up this morning for work and discovered via my iPad it was 38°F outside.  38!  Ai yi yi.  It may be Summer by the calendar but that’s not a typical Summer temperature for sure.

With the change in the weather, more things come to mind that needs to be done to get ready for that other bug-a-boo, old Man Winter.  The garage needs to be rearranged to make room for the car, hopefully, earlier than I usually do it, which tends to be before the first or second snowfall of the year.  At that point, I take just about everything that’s crowded on the main part of the garage, shove it into the corners and sides, and make a car-sized space in the middle, just big enough for the vehicle to reside.  Then uncover the snowblower, make certain it starts and everything stays put for the most part until Spring.  And the cycle starts anew.  As soon as it’s warm enough, the car comes out, the garage is repopulated somewhat by junk and the car stays outside for the warm weather.

Like most years, about this time I think I’m going to change that narrative.  Since June, I’ve been meaning to get out to the garage, pull out just about everything in it and start sorting, rearranging, and seeing if I can make it neater, even have considered buying some storage solutions and either attaching them to the walls or building upwards from the floor with adjustable wire shelving similar to the ones that I purchased for our pantry in the past twelve months.

This seemed to be a better solution than my other idea, which involved woodworking.  Building a shelving unit from hardware (2×4’s, screws, and plywood) might end up being the cheaper route, but my woodworking skills are basic at best, and I’m not terribly confident that what I built would hold up under load for a long period of time.  So more than likely it would be cost-prohibitive in the long run if I went with something made of steel.

As is normally the case with my posts, they start at one point and end up being finished at another. It’s now Wed Sep 23 and Autumn has arrived.  We’ve already had 2 nights when the mercury dipped below the 32°F threshold and it was required that we either bring in potted plants or cover ones that we wished to save.  The garage has been populated with the pots and both the old blue sheet and ratty canvas dropcloth have been pressed into service to salvage the marigolds and the backyard flowers that cannot be moved.marigolds-2020.jpg

Suffice it to say we can’t keep that up forever.  At some point we’ll determine it’s time to let the annuals be frost-killed and remove them from the planter and backyard beds, preparing them for the winter slumber.  Soon enough I’ll be giving the lawns one good last mow and put away the mower for the year.  Raking leaves and putting them to the curb for the village to collect.  I’ve already started looking for a lawn service to clear out the brush pile behind the garage.  That needs to go as well.  I’m sure our neighbors behind us would agree.  They actually put up a fence to obscure it.

Three months to go until Winter.

Things that go bump in the night

Last night we had a really bad storm in the area.  Bad enough that even in a brick house I could hear the wind blowing outside.  Coupled with a torrential rain (we live on high ground so flooding isn’t really an issue) that had lasted most of the day there were parts of town that were inundated with the wet stuff but not too terrible.

This past winter we’d had a fairly significant heavy snowfall that had weakened several trees near the property.  One in particular while belonging to the village also encroaches upon our front yard slightly, meaning one of the larger branches hangs over the property line.  The tree’s base has a rather old but unsightly gash in it, and it’s probably on it’s way towards dying in the next 10 years or so.

Last night around 10:45 I heard what sounded like a significant crash from the front of the house.  One of the cameras in the front of the house showed some accelerated activity in the form of leaves blowing around the steps, but nothing that suggested there was anything major amiss.  Looking out the front door, my wife informed me that there was something in the darkness that didn’t look quite right, that her view toward the street seemed to be blocked.  Turning on the porch lights I could see why.

windstorm1Granted this is the next morning, but going right off from our porch (off to camera right) I could tell that a significant portion of the tree I had been concerned about since this past winter was now residing in the front yard.  I put on my shoes and a jacket, went outside (it had stopped raining at this point but was still pretty windy, probably 20-25 mph gusts) with a flashlight and my phone.  Couldn’t really take any pictures at that point as there wouldn’t be any depth of field.  With my flashlight I could tell the positioning of the tree and the piece that had broken off.  It wasn’t impeding traffic so it seemed pointless to call anyone to take care of it.

About an hour later, the whole thing became moot anyway as the power went off.  Not just for us, but apparently for pretty much our whole town and quite a few towns around us.  The local electrical co-op posted on Facebook that NYSEG had for some reason shut off the electrical connection between them, so they were without power to distribute.  Until that was turned back on, their hands were effectively tied.  Certainly it had something to do with the windstorm, as the NYSEG website’s outage page was lit up like a Christmas tree with outages all over the state.  So it wasn’t just my area, it was all over the place.  One can surmise what probably happened.  One grid goes down, and like dominoes, as each grid is overloaded by others failing, someone needs to pull the plug before they all go down.  So, in my opinion, that’s what someone decided to do.

Regardless, the power was off for a little under five hours.  Came back on around 4:30 and in the morning, I took a few pictures before calling the village street department and informing them about the tree.  About an hour later a crew arrived and disposed of the debris.  I chatted with the foreman about the final disposition of what was left of the tree, and he agreed it will probably have to all come down, it’s pretty rickety the way it is.  Even so, it’s still standing as I’m typing this out.  We’ll see if they bother to remove it.