Sunday, December 12, 2010

Yo, Mo Snow

Gee, I love winter in Wisconsin.

The NWS (National Weather Service) advised against travel anywhere in the state Saturday. I-94 was impassable between Tomah and Hudson. This morning's weather map was a kaleidoscope of colors correlated to a winter storm watch, wind advisory, special weather statement, blizzard warning and a watch for the wicked witch of the North.

Mandy struggles in deep snow in the front yard. To get anywhere, she has to do the porpoise leap. It's all just a game with her and a different way to stride across the front field trying to outrun the county road crews. When the plow passes by on the highway, it throws up a huge spiral swirl of snow that forces her to back off from the chase.

We waited until the town crew came through on our road. Dawn shovels out the driveway apron in anticipation of a Monday morning commute. I dig the truck out which is parked across the road. Curious yellow-green marks in the snow tell me something I suspected previous to now. When I last changed the oil of my F-150 I filled the reservoir for coolant. I never think in advance to check the radiator when the engine is cool. Oh joy, the radiator has a leak. I should drive the truck to a remote location and shoot it dead with my .243. Tires, a rear window, brakes, rusted fuel filter, a check engine light that won't turn off, a new clutch, two 02 sensors, a crankshaft sensor and an engine that shakes like Barney Fife in a hold up when it's starting up in hot weather.

I shovel a path to the bird feeder opposite the kitchen window. Big mistake. The cat uses the path as a runway at unsuspecting birds. He's been banned to the breezeway and a perch on the seed bin to watch the antics of cardinals, blue-jays, lots of chickadees, juncos and an occasional woodpecker. About once an hour we hear a ping when some near sighted bird bounces off a window. There's a small sage wreath in one window of the breezeway and I'll find more suction cups to hang pewter Christmas ornaments of Milwaukee landmarks that my son gifted us a few years ago.

The view down the dead end of Kickapoo Center Lane was supposed to catch the wet snow clinging to the trees on the hills. Since the picture is a large format, you may be able to discern the snow covered trees by clicking on the image.

The sun distorted the shot of the front field. The other hills in the background are visible, if you ignore the fuchsia. In my defense, I was in a hurry to catch these shots before the camera iced up.

Wind chills are below zero today and an expected -11 overnight has me feeding the wood stove hourly. We alternate between the propane forced air heater and the wood stove because of a curious clause of our agreement with the gas co-op. In previous years we contracted for a set amount of fuel. Heating with wood keeps our house warm and toasty in even the coldest weather because the blowers on the wood stove run continuously. Only when the fuel supply runs out do the blowers shut down. That means every object in the house, the furniture, the kitchen stove, the floors and ceilings all are 70+ degrees. Overnight the thermostat on the propane heater doesn't get down to the pre-set 65 degree mark for operation because the house is so well insulated. In short if we heat with wood we use less gas. The clause in the propane contract says we have to use a minimum of 400 gallons in a heating season.

In some years we've used a total of 383 gallons over the course of a year. The propane company has waived the clause in the past, but I'm wary of pushing our luck. This year I've enjoyed the lazy comfort of turning up the thermostat to 68 degrees during the day. Our miserly pre-sets at 62 after 10PM and 65 for the day are history.

No comments: