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Maunderings from the deep freeze

So … how are y’all enjoying the deep freeze? Seems as if it’s settling in to stay, doesn’t it?

We’re just on the edge of it here in the North(currently not so)Wet — cozy compared with some of you. But it’s clear and cold and fiercely windy and I’m ready to stay indoors surrounded by space heaters.

Wonder if I could teach the dogs to use the toilet? Or just encourage them to go walk in the woods by themselves?


Though I’m still having not much darned luck with “listening to silence” (e.g. sitting meditation), this week has felt both blessedly serene and productive.

I’m working on something. Too early to talk about it; probably even mentioning it right now is hazardous to the creative process. Very likely it’ll come to nothing.

But if my brain must always be busy-busy-busy it’s a pleasure to have it busy on something potentially useful.


I don’t have tons of new or deep stuff to say right now. So here’s a nice time waster. Can you find the snipers (or hunters, if you prefer) in these pix?


And here’s a first. It’s so cold this morning that when all three critters in the household had a chance to get up on a cot in front of a nice, warm heat source, they jumped at the chance.



  1. Bear
    Bear November 13, 2014 8:19 am

    Until it hits 0F, it ain’t “deep freeze” around here. We do have heavy snow in the forecast for Monday, so I finally got off my posterior and did prep maintenance on the snowblower, and brought out the snow shovels. Got a thirty gallon barrel of sand and jugs of sand in the vehicles.

    I had to start firing up the woodstove about a week ago.

    -sigh- I was kind of hoping that I’d get out before winter hit.

  2. LarryA
    LarryA November 13, 2014 9:20 am

    The critters: Pax frigidae

    Cold is a matter of attitude. One year we had to move from Grand Island, Nebraska to Amarillo, Texas between Christmas and New Years.

    Everyone in Amarillo was saying, “Oh, no! It’s getting down to 20 degrees tonight.”

    Everyone in Grand Island was saying, “Oh, yes! It’s getting up to 20 degrees today.”

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 13, 2014 9:24 am

    Minus 9 degrees outside this morning, and we got about 4 inches of snow in the storm Monday night and Tuesday. More coming next week.

    The snow is early, and it’s much colder than usual this early, but nothing we’re not used to over all. I had a nice fire in the airtight stove several mornings this week, but ran out of wood inside and chickened out about going to the woodpile in the cold and wind yesterday, so just settled for the electric space heaters this morning. Need to rethink how I store wood in here if it’s going to be so danged cold during the day. That, and just not be so wimpy about going out there. 🙂

  4. Claire
    Claire November 13, 2014 10:58 am

    “Pax frigidae.”

    10,000 Internet points to LarryA!

  5. MJR
    MJR November 13, 2014 12:15 pm

    The weather-tainers are spouting there doom and gloom early this year. It doesn’t really matter, things will progress as they always have. The only difference between today’s weather and that of a hundred years ago is that today the mass media makes such a production of it. As for me, I just finished getting the winter preps done. All I have to say now is bring it on.

  6. Karen
    Karen November 13, 2014 12:33 pm

    High yesterday was +10. Low this morning was -10. The fire’s been going steady for 3 days. Thankfully today we finally have sunshine and it’s supposed to be the last of the polar vortex, or whatever they’re calling it. Tomorrow should be balmy and almost up to freezing. Glad I got a little obsessive about firewood this year.

  7. Joel
    Joel November 13, 2014 1:08 pm

    So how cold is it there, Claire? And how do you keep ending up with cats, anyway?

    Not bad here so far, typical for November. Water froze in the yard hydrant overnight, but it’s a balmy 65 and windy at the moment. Quick fire to take off the morning chill, and then no more needed until tomorrow.

    “pax frigidae” is pretty good.

  8. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau November 13, 2014 4:18 pm

    In Wyoming at the moment. Thermometer was down somewhere below 0 this morning, I forget…

    Times like this I wish I had a tiny house and a little woodstove. Big houses with their big appetites suck. One of my old paranoias was that the fossil fuel finally runs out, and we are stuck with a lot of big inefficient housing stock and nothing to heat it with.

  9. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth November 14, 2014 12:12 am

    Well, it makes a certain sense that if the rest of the country is getting a major cold snap, we’d (here in Alaska) be having exactly the reverse. That inverted relationship seems to be pretty durn reliable.

    And so we fired up our coal stove a couple weeks ago (we get our coal from local beaches, where it washes up during storms), in anticipation of the warm and toasties, and mostly it’s like it’s been in search of something to actually do.

  10. david
    david November 14, 2014 6:47 am

    I don’t know if this is a helpful idea or not, but I’ll offer it. Maybe it only works if you’re wired on the same plan as I am.

    When I was… oh, 30 years younger, I had trouble relaxing on vacation. I was working full time, and several hours every evening too. I’d recently finished several years of both full time work and full class loads at the nearby university.

    I realized that when I went on vacation it took at least 3 days to even slow down, and that I seldom completely relaxed before vacation was over. But one year, I accidentally drank too much the first night of vacation and awoke with a crushing hangover. That kept me pretty much immobile the entire next day, and the day after – I was relaxed and on vacation. I had found a way to have a controlled ‘hit-the-wall’ event, that permitted me to do a sudden full stop.

    It worked for me. Depending on what your ‘poison’ is, you might want to try something similar.

  11. Claire
    Claire November 14, 2014 7:54 am

    LOL, David. That’s a hoot. Um … I had my last hangover about 25 years ago (after just one glass of wine, yet!) and I really do mean my last. But yes, that’s a good thought on one’s personal “poison.”

    Joel — It’s not really that cold here, not even remotely cold when compared with the midwest and east. Just low 20s in the a.m. and low 40s in the p.m. But the winds have been vicious and are dry northerlies and easterlies that grate on the mind and body. Winds seem to have gone now. And really, we never did have it that bad. I’m just reluctant to crank up the heat this early in the season, so the house gets down into the 50s or even 40s at night (something you’re more than familiar with, I know.)

  12. Laird
    Laird November 14, 2014 8:32 am

    I knew that Alaska was different, but I didn’t realize that it was in a different universe. In this one, coal is extracted from mines deep in the earth (occasionally it’s high enough up that you can scrape off a few hundred feet of dirt to get at it), but it doesn’t wash up on beaches. Driftwood washes up on beaches, and after it dries out you can burn it, but it’s not coal. Perhaps we have different definitions of the word coal?

  13. Jim B.
    Jim B. November 14, 2014 9:17 am

    LOL! Coal is also somewhat heavy, so if it gets into the Oceans somehow, it’s likely to sink to the bottom. He must be talking about driftwood. You can cook it to drive out moisture and make charCOAL, but that involves fuel as well.

  14. LarryA
    LarryA November 14, 2014 9:50 am

    The only difference between today’s weather and that of a hundred years ago is that today the mass media makes such a production of it.

    Which is a big feature, as opposed to the one-hour hurricane warnings of circa 1914.

  15. jed
    jed November 15, 2014 11:19 am

    Out of curiosity, I did a web search for “Alaska beach coal”. Apparently, there is in fact bituminous coal which just barely floats. Also came upon a reference for the same phenomenon in Scotland.

    The density of water at 40 degrees F is 62.43lb/cu. ft. The density of bituminous coal is 52 lb/cu. ft. The ocean, being salt water, would have a slightly higher density.

    (Sources: Wikipedia and

    Density measurement using pounds are dumb, because density should be measured using a unit of mass. But since most people are OK with using grams as a unit of weight, I guess there’s no point in bothering with the distinction.

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