Monsoon Season in a Temperate Rain Forest

I am not in the mood for this rain this morning.  Not in the least.  I need a crisp fall day with crystalline blue skies and the occasional orange leaf wafting past my window while I write.

Photo by Nick Nice on Unsplash

I have two deadlines for two major projects that have already gone by.  I asked for and received an extension on both, but now it’s do or die time.  I do not need to be drowsy and in fear of my power going out.

I’ve never lived anywhere where it rained like this.  Not even in Hawaii in the rainy season.  I call these the monsoon seasons and we have two of them – one in the spring and one in fall.  However, this past spring, they never ended.  It’s just been one very wet summer.  I am weary of rain.

West Virginia is a temperate rainforest.  Really.  I looked it up once and Seattle has nothing on us for rainy days.  It’s just that we concentrate our rain and have deluges.  I had a girlfriend visiting from San Francisco one time during one of our downpours.  She was both amazed and terrified.  She kept saying different things in the vein of, “If this was California we would be ordered to shelter in place.”  Here?  Life just goes on unless it floods.  I surely hope Ian doesn’t treat us to floods.  We’ve had more than our fair share.

When we moved to West Virginia the first time, I lived on the third floor of an old Southside Huntington brick.  There were sloping ceilings and one set of windows near my bed that went from floor to ceiling.  I could lie on the bed, watch the rain, read, and dream my high school dreams.  It was lovely. 

As the years went by, it became less and less lovely.  We transferred to Wisconsin where monsoons don’t happen and there is an abundance of sunny days, albeit often cold.  Very cold.  Blue skies in the winter guaranteed subzero temperatures.  It had to warm up to snow.

We transferred back here and moved into the barn with its tin roof.  Oh, how glorious, rain on a tin roof is!  My family room is still under a tin roof – I negotiated with the insurance agent who made us get a real roof if we wanted coverage.  So, I still get that roar of rain in this room.  The room where I write.  The room where I have to, have to, have to be productive today.

The sound is hypnotic, and I want nothing more than to curl up on the sofa with the puppies, a cup of coffee, and a good book.  But I procrastinated myself into this situation and I must muscle my way out of it.  By the sounds of it, it will still be raining after I’m finished.  I’ll get cuddle time, yet which is good.  I’m in sore need of downtime.

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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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.

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.