Tag Archives: weather

The Winter of My Content

march snow 034The past four days have been an adventure.  Between Wednesday night and Thursday, I found 10 inches of snow outside The Barn.  With great glee, I celebrated the announcement that a certain community college was closed both Thursday and Friday.  At my place of employment, this means we are also closed and I don’t have to burn vacation days due to heavy snow.  It doesn’t take a lot of snow to trap me on the hill and nearly a foot was way overkill.

We had eight inches of snow over the President’s Day weekend.  I ended up with a full week off of work.  It was a lovely respite, but I did nothing but sleep, eat, read and watch Downton Abbey.

I had big plans for these four days off, but as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”  I seem to be in major nesting mode – I want The Barn to look as wonderful as I think it is, so a thorough cleaning was in order.  I also was looking forward to cooking.  After not cooking for most of the past ten years, I’m suddenly interested in it again.

march snow 003Day 1 of my four-day weekend, Thursday, I did some triage cleaning (Chez Barn was/is a Superfund Site) and finally finished putting all the Christmas stuff away.  Yes, yes.  I know, March, but, hell, it was July one year. I’m ahead of schedule!  It was so nice having my living room back that I wallowed in that room and admired the gorgeous snow and sunshine out my window.  It was very Dr. Zhivago-ish.  I also made the starter dough for a new sticky bun recipe.  I’m on a quest for the perfect sticky bun.  The potato soup I made for dinner was spectacular!  I could win a soup contest, my potato soup is just that good.

Friday morning, I woke up with a head of steam to clean and bake.  I turned the starter dough into finished dough and had it set to rise when the power went out at 9 a.m.  I trundled my butt-that-doesn’t-need-even-a-single-sticky-bun-much-less-a-dozen down to my folks’ house to see if they had power.

march snow 057They didn’t.  But they had a fireplace and the hearth proved a perfect spot to make old-fashioned percolator coffee.  After visiting with them for awhile, I took the big camera out for a photo shoot of Ma Nature’s glorious handiwork.  I tromped around Onafork and took some stellar photos, some mediocre, and some just bad.  (See the gallery below.)

When I returned, I called Appalachian Power and reported the outage.  I was told it would be repaired at 10 p.m. Sunday.  SUNDAY!  I was miffed.  One cannot clean and bake in a cold, dark house with no electricity.  I mean, really, it already looks like I clean in the dark.

potato soupBy the afternoon, The Barn was getting cold – 55F, to be exact.  I trundled back down to my folks’ after defrosting the windows of my car and cleaning off the snow.  I wanted to be ready in the event of an emergency.

We all sat around drinking coffee, laughing about how we were out of wood and having to burn old software manuals, and eating the leftover potato soup I made on Thursday.

Software manuals put out a great deal of heat.  We were comfortable and told stories.  Eventually, I went back home to sleep.  I have a heavy down comforter on my bed as well as a heavy bedspread.  I was confident I would be warm enough.  And I was.

march snow 006Saturday, I went back down to the parents’ house, because the only way to be comfortable in my then 42F house was to be in the bed.  One can only stay in bed alone for so long.  Plans were made for them to go to a hotel.  I decided to stay here and tend to critters.  By that time, we were down to broken furniture to burn in the fireplace.  A cheesy “wood” chair made in Yugoslavia doesn’t burn nearly as well as do software manuals.  Surprise, surprise.

Nonetheless, I was all zen and accepting of life’s curve ball when I discovered I had left my car running, ran the battery down and my phone was down to 10% power.  The only way I had to charge the phone was the car charger and that wasn’t going to work with a dead battery.  I lamented on Facebook and my friend/contractor sent his son over to jump my car.

I have been so blessed with the people in my life.  My boss texted me often to see if there was anything she could do to help.  Other friends called.  My Facebook world fretted about my well-being.  I don’t know what I ever did to deserve the friendships I have, but I’m very grateful.

at my parentsSaturday evening was spent in a haze of wine and contentment.  It would have been nice to have had some music, but, alas, I was short of that perfection.  I left my folks’ house at about 11 p.m. and returned to my toasty bed.  If nothing else, I did get a lot of sleep.  I drifted off convinced that the power company was lying to me and I would wake to power on Sunday morning.

Well.  I woke up this morning and I still didn’t have power.  Zounds!

Back like a boomerang, I went to my parents’ house yet again.  The fire had gone out and I couldn’t get that Yugoslavian chair to light to save my life.  Besides the cold factor, the more important problem was that I couldn’t make coffee.  I have a serious coffee addiction.  It was a dire situation.  After about an hour, in walked my parents with coffee and sausage biscuits.  Again, I was suffused with gratitude.

And then the power came back on, well before 10 p.m.  There was great celebration and I returned home to bake and clean and blog and upload photos and do laundry and put emergency light sources away…and…and…

It’s been a wonderful day.   The sticky buns turned out a tad gummy, but recipe tweaking should take care of that.  The house is still a mess and laundry isn’t even half done, but I am happy and content. These days  it’s good to be me – the winter of my content.  Contentment may well be the best state of being.  I know I’m certainly enjoying it.

 

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Filed under March 2015

Carruthers

Photo by Roy Welburn

Photo by Roy Welburn

I’m snuggled on the couch with the puppy drinking coffee.  After complaining about the heat for days, I’m enjoying the storm waging outside The Barn.

I promised myself I would not complain about this summer’s heat after last winter’s cold.  I meant well.

But there’s nothing like feeling safe inside while the rain rages outside.  I feel snug and loved as the puppy is using this opportunity to cover me with sweet puppy kisses.

I joke that Carruthers should be here.  Whenever she visits, West Virginia is dowsed in torrents of rain – tropical monsoons the likes of which we all marvel at.  But Carruthers is turning 25 while doing fieldwork in Indonesia.  I bet it’s more tropical here today.

Her birthday isn’t technically until tomorrow, but it’s tomorrow today where she is, so I wished her Happy Birthday as she ate Mexican food and listened to salsa music in an Indonesian restaurant.  Isn’t it a wonderful world!

One of the greatest blessings I received from Doug is his daughter, Carruthers.  I would never have gotten through this past year without her.  I hope she knows how much I love her.

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Filed under June 2014

Hot times in the bedroom

006Those of you who hang out with me on Facebook know that I’m still in the seemingly-endless pursuit of organizing The Barn.  I go in fits and starts with this, but lately my fervor has been renewed.  I love an orderly, clean house.  I’m just not very good at it.  (But I’m getting better!)

For all of my short-comings in the house cleaning arena, I’m pretty good about keeping my bedroom orderly, in part because I love my bed.

I have a grand bed.  I think everyone should have a bed so imposing it is reminiscent of a throne.

I bought the bed along with the Beloved Vanity and other pieces a good 8 years ago.  The furniture is so big that they couldn’t bring it up the stairs, but had to lift it to the top of the truck and then from there hoist it through the French doors in the master bedroom.

003I decided that since I spend a third of my life, more or less, in bed, that bed should be a haven, a sanctuary, a symphony of hedonism.   The bed is appointed with luxurious coverings including very high-thread count sheets.  There is a mound of pillows that I remove each night, but leave in place for afternoon naps.  I love sprawling among the pillows and watching the sun come through the French doors.

I love my bed.  It’s king-sized in keeping with my throne desire and I can sprawl all over the thing without body parts hanging off.  The animals sometimes join me in the bed, though not regularly.  There’s room for all of us.

In the winter time, I love keeping the bedroom cold so that I can burrow in the bed like the cocoon it is.  It’s simply delicious to wallow.  It’s only when it gets blazing hot outside, as it is now, that my bed is not quite so wonderful.  The bed linens are heavy especially so with the goose down-filled comfortor.  While I have central air, the construction of the barn is such that cooling the upstairs when it’s 80F at midnight means keeping the downstairs at freezer level.  I don’t want to pay Appalachian Electric that much.  So, tonight I will lie on top of the covers and let the ceiling fan swirl air over me.

I realize this is a first-world problem and that I have no reason to whine.  I’m not whining,  not really.  I think I’m marking the entrance of Summer to what has been a very strange Spring.

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Filed under June 2014

This lawn chair is mighty comfortable, y’all.

I have waxed rhapsodic about an Appalachian spring many times.  I won’t bore us by doing it again.  However, suffice it to say that I’m glorying in today’s weather and trying to create order in what passes for my yard.

daffodilskyLast year was the Great Garden Palooza of 2013.  HMOKeefe was mighty sick and I took off work to be here with him.  He slept a lot and during his naps I started two big garden projects:  leveling the back yard and creating a kitchen door garden.  He worsened and died before either project was finished, but he was excited about what I was doing.  He would sit on the daybed by the bay window and watch me move retaining blocks, dirt and mulch.

There was no need to go to the gym last year.  I moved enough wheelbarrow loads of stuff to surpass any gym workout.  Unfortunately, I need to move as many as I did last year plus a few dozen more.  I’m finding it hard to motivate.  Instead, I sit in the lawn chair with the warm sun on my face and fantasize about how great the yard is going to look when I’m done with it.

I have a plaque that looks like a rock with the words it takes a long time to grow an old friend engraved on it.  It’s really going to take a long time if I don’t get out of this lawn chair and get moving.  Never mind that the house is also a mess and my to-do list is in volumes. . .

While I won’t wax rhapsodic about spring, let me just say that after the polar vortex, record cold and snow, and a generally sucky winter, I need this spring.  I need this warm sun on my face and I need the soft, new grass curling around my bare feet.  I need it all so much that in addition to finishing last year’s projects, I’m committed to restoring the front garden to its former glory.  Yes, I’ve said this before.  Yes, yes, I know.  . . but really, I’m going to do it.  Just as soon as I get out of this lawn chair.

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Filed under April 2014

There’s a dragon in my garden.

dragon 001

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December 10, 2013 7:54 am · 7:54 am

Snow Day/Sick Day

Snow Day/Sick Day

There’s a dragon in my garden.

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November 12, 2013 10:19 am · 10:19 am

A Hallelujah Chorus in Leaf Mulch

I love windows.

I love windows.

It did my evil little heart good to get outside in the garden today.

I hadn’t attended to any of the leaves until today because of the cataract surgery. When one lives in a forest, this is, perhaps, not a good idea. I am not exaggerating – I had fallen, unraked leaves that accumulated on their own into 1’ and 2’ piles in the fenced area of the garden.

I did a lot in the garden this past spring. Doug was recently discharged from the hospital and not well enough to be left alone for several weeks. That time period coincided with a streak of beyond-gorgeous weather that makes a body’s heart hurt.

I’m reading a book by Julia Keller titled A Killing in the Hills that is set in West Virginia. I’m not very far into the book, but she astounded me on pages 27-28 with her description of an Appalachia spring. I’ve spent years trying to develop a concise, accurate description that could be conveyed in writing without accompanying photographs.

Keller wrote:

It was a beautiful place, especially in the late spring and throughout the long summer, when the hawks wrote slow, wordless stories across the pale blue parchment of the sky, when the tree-lined valleys exploded in a green so vivid and yet so predictable that it was like a hallelujah shout at a tent revival. You always knew it was coming, but it could still knock you clean off your feet.

leavesImagine if you will that the acres surrounding my barn exploded into a lengthy mountain music version of the Hallelujah chorus. That was this past spring. Imagine now, piles of leaves waist high being mulched with a lawn mower. Can you hear the closing strains of those Hallelujahs as they shelter the plants for the winter under a blanket of leaf mulch. Yes, the wheel turns.

Gardening and writing keep me sane. Last spring, my sanity was hanging by a thread. Some would argue the thread broke. That stretch of spring, with its soaring melody, kept me grounded. Since Doug slept a lot, I spent a lot of time outside – often working by lantern light.

My long-time readers know that my garden is a work in progress – one that began with acres of packed gravel inches deep in unblastable clay. In the beginning, to plant a daffodil required a pick axe and sometimes an auger. After 22 years or so of waging battle against bad dirt, I was sure this year was going to be The Year My Garden Landed on the Cover of Southern Living.

a lot of work

During the 2013 Garden Palooza

By my standards, I poured a ton of money into the ground out back. I painted lawn furniture, bought new cushions, planted a dozen or so shrubs and bushes, and planted flats and flats of petunias and impatiens. I babied a patch of Irish moss, let lavender roam free, and lost all sense of prudence when I bought the fountain and the super-duper-big planter to hold a tropical, vining plant. This was going to be the year.

And then the rains came. The news described them as “scattered storms.” Every one of those scattered storms stalled over the top of my piece of heaven and monsooned. I joked and quipped and carried on about building a lotus pond combo moat to try and keep my barn from sliding off its foundation in a mudslide.

I measured daily rains in inches. Really. If memory serves, we had one of the wettest Mays and Junes of all time and I got more of those scattered storms than most.

Marine Corps Veterans - Daddy and his Good Officer's Wife

Marine Corps Veterans – Daddy and his Good Officer’s Wife

And then Doug went into the hospital for the last time. As I moved into my role as psychopomp, the garden boiled in the wet heat. And then it was overrun with weeds. And then the lawnmower broke. And then I was grieving.

The garden is a mess. A passerby (if I had passerbys) would swear it’s been neglected for decades.

I’m hoping the weather holds for the rest of this Veteran’s Day weekend. I could do some serious cleanup, weeding, this-and-that’s and have a garden ready for frolicking come March. Last year was the first spring I was able to just leap into planting mode without having to spend on weeks on winter clean up. I’m hoping for a repeat.

petunias in november

Petunias in November!

It’s been abnormally warm.  I found blooming petunias today as well as a climbing hydrangea with buds. It’s too much to hope that this weather will hold for long, but I’m enjoying it.  My serotonin levels are enjoying it and I’m pretty sure my Vitamin D got topped off today.

Four months.  I can hang on until then.  Happy Veteran’s Day Weekend, y’all.

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Filed under November 2013