Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Big Chill

I know it was cold very cold.

Cold enough to keep me from catching my breath when I went outside if I pulled my second scarf down.
There was a wind chill on the first day that was brutally cold, it cut through my two layers and my heavy coveralls.

But the hay needed to be put out.

I went out as soon as they cleaned up their morning hay and gave them more. The water in the heated tank steamed.

Later on I looked out the window and saw mules relaxing in the sunshine. They were sound asleep.

Not a great shot, but there you go. Siera and Sunshine sleeping in the sunshine during a Polar Vortex.

This morning was absolutely beautiful, the snow sparkled with little reflections of white.
The treeless pasture in front of the house had been windswept.

This morning's temperature was supposed to be something like -32, but there was no longer a wind.

I bundled up and took Mica her morning warm water. She drank and snuffled for her morning grain. Everyone has frost on their eyelashes.

Somewhere in the distance I heard a loud pop. I recall hearing that trees did that in super subzero temperatures. A little later I could hear the neighbor's vehicle driving up the gravel road from nearly a mile away.
The snow sparkled, the sun topped the trees...
and the morning was spectacular but cold.

We'd made it through the worst.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Stormy with a cold wind comin'

Here is one of my cold weather 'get ups'. No skin showing, no skin to get frostbitten. Or so I hope.

Here is the 'lame' skidsteer and the 'Ru parked up by the house. I normally park it by the horse trailer but neighbor Justin and I worked out that if I parked here, he could do the turn around for me.
It worked perfectly.

Charlie was not entirely sure about leaving the porch as the snow was over his head.
Later on he did some snow tunneling while I shoveled off the porch and made a path to the shed.

With all critters fed and extra hay laid out for mid day chores walked up the driveway to go check the mail.

I have to admit, Justin and Lauren are incredible neighbors. Hands down, country folk are the best. I stopped in with an invite for coffee from Lauren and she helped me brush up on my Excel Spreadsheet skills while we visited.
By the time I left, the temperatures were warm enough to use the outside hydrant.

With temps dropping to -32 on Wednesday morning, I didn't want to take a chance on filling the heated tank in that cold. I was afraid that the self drain would freeze and I'd have no outside water.
Mica and Dixie got tepid water as did Lil' Richard. I got that in the house and my new cold weather routine is to hand water them about 5 times a day. I wish I had heated buckets for their paddocks.

I had to stomp a trail down the hill so I could drain the hose after watering from the hydrant. 
With that done, I picked up the shovel and started making a wide path from the driveway to the porch.

I had help from the dogs....

If you could call it that...
I think Charlie had the upper hand even though he is much smaller. I let them play for as long as I could let them. No outings for the dogs for the next 3 days.

I'll finish up with Charlie and his snow snuffling.

It is pretty cute.

All in all, I got a lot accomplished and even laid out piles of feed for the cold spell. That way I can just grab it and toss it in the sled and go.
I'm hoping to be able to feed everyone at least 3 times a day.

I thought about a middle of the night feeding. But I have to admit it.
Dangerous Cold?
No, I'll have to do it at dawn and dusk and give them enough to last most of the night.

The thought of this cold really frightens me.
I wonder if some of these younger folk understand what this bitter and dangerous cold will do to them?

Anyway...the sun is coming up, time to wrap up and head out.
We are at our warmest for today at -7 according to the local website.

Dang. I forgot that thermometer once again!

Most schools will be closed in the surrounding area. Many local businesses have shortened their hours from 9am to 3pm. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for all counties. I think he was wise.

Time to get out some items to practice Still Life Photography and perhaps work on my spreadsheets along with a few other indoor projects.

Stay warm.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Winter Skidsteer Polar Vortex Storm

Well, that should cover just about all of it. At least what I am thinking about this morning.
Well there it is. Winter is here. I would have preferred the snows without the storms and predicted subzero temperatures.

It was -25 F and calm yesterday morning. The sunrise was beautiful with purples and pinks. By 9AM it was only 14 below [well, that is what my smarty pants phone said as we no longer have an outdoor thermometer...which I will fix today..]. I did chores and Charlie went with me for part of the time. I must say, he is a sturdy little dog. But he is young too.
Dixie didn't want to come out of her hay bale igloo in the shed. I poked my head in there and it was pretty warm. 

By mid afternoon I got a text from Justin. He said he wanted to come down and put the skid steer tire on. 
Well we got the tire on. However, in order to put the tracks on, we needed to start it and lift it with the bucket and set it down...well, I won't bore you with the details but all of the rest of the work hinged on starting the skidsteer. 

I had it plugged in. It wouldn't start. We figured it was the battery. I'd recalled that Rich had said at one point that he probably would need a new one? Rich didn't recall that. 
His memory is fuzzy about most things these days. The last time he was in the shed he was frustrated because 'something' wasn't there that he had put there. I found the items in his truck later and told him ... well, that didn't go so well either.

[I have to keep recalling that Rich's anger that get's directed at me is not really his normal. It is the frustration, the pain, the feeling of helplessness from all of his illnesses that he can only express his frustration in the tone of anger. He used to be able to stomp out to the shed and fix everything himself. Not any more.]


The conclusion was we'd have to wait for better weather. Justin could open the battery compartment and charge the battery and we could finish the job. But it would be a while. 

Justin promised to plow us out during the next storm. He wouldn't take any payment, relaying that when they needed help, I was always there and I took care of all of their chores when they went on vacations. Even up.

So the skidsteer is stuck right there in the way. I can't get the big old truck out to get small square bales, but I have the monster bales to use.

It looks like a very cold wintry week coming up. 

And the Vortex is coming!

The Skidsteer saga continues. I told Justin at this point I'd rather hire someone to plow this winter. I'd get the skidsteer parked and send it in come spring time to get overhauled or just sell it.

Next Saturday it looks like it may get up close to 30 degrees. That will be the day to start the skid steer, charge the battery and finish putting the tracks back on it. 

For today, I'm getting the usual things in town and then parking the 'Ru in a spot to make it easier for Justin to plow after the storm. 
One day at a time.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

A bit of fun x country skiing

A snow storm was predicted to dump 6 to 8 inches on Wednesday and over night it did snow. By about noon the next day it was sunny and bright.
The kids' schools had cancelled out due to the predicted weather.

I felt lucky because the kids wanted to go cross country skiing and I jumped at the chance to make new tracks in the snow.
We all felt it would be wise to take advantage of the sunny day.

The weather service predicted an ultra cold blast with winds beginning on Thursday.

How could I pass up going through the 'tunnel' again. This time I could see clearly.

The skies were bright clear blue and amazing.

And then we settled into the deep freeze.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Snow dogs...

Snow swimming is fun...

Since the winds are supposed to pick up and the temperatures drop from 18 to -14 this afternoon, I took a short break after the cross country ski adventure with my neighbor and kids ...
and took the dogs for a walk to the creek.

Yesterday's warm sun thawed some of the iced over sections of the creek. I was amazed at how unfazed Charlie seemed to be while hiking through the creek. Dixie could care less, she is an outside dog but during the cold snaps she has a deep nest inside a stack of hay with blankets. She made the first nest and then I made it into an igloo. Charlie, Dixie, and I all fit inside it.
I feel like a kid again, making forts in a pile of hay.


Where one dog goes, the other likes to follow.

Here you can get an idea of exactly how small Charlie is compared to Dixie who is what we would call a medium to large dog. She is about as big as a large Labrador, weighing in at about 55 to 60 lbs.

They are pretty good together. Dixie puts up with his presence and pays extremely close attention to me.
I think she sees him like a pesky little gnat.

Then there are those times when I just smile and adore the two of them.

And then there are moments that I just can't help myself and I laugh...


The temperatures have dropped 12 degrees in the last 3 hours and the winds are picking up.

I'm going to head out and settle everyone in for the night with plenty of feed and warm water.

Tomorrow may be a day to stay inside. Well, except for chores that is.

Stuck inside so

I haven't done fractal art in a while. And since this week so far I've been stuck inside ....
well, I haven't really but my Monday was taken up by running the tire to town and grabbing things for the impending storm that really didn't happen.
Yesterday I had a killer headache and it probably was from calling Rich's provider and trying to get calls back from the VA, along with making a spreadsheet, looking up costs for a walk in shower, redoing the living room floor...
you get the idea.
Yesterday was a work in frustration and my headache won out.

So I figured to go back to town this morning, but now I see the promised snow is falling. I don't know how much but if it is around 2 inches, it won't be a problem to get to town for the tire...

So after doing the housework, I decided to delve back into the world of computer artwork.

These two were created with Incendia Next not the newest version, I am trying that out today to see what I can come up with.

I fiddled around with Mandelbulb 3D a bit this morning and ended up with something I thought would make a neat cave ... so I edited it and dropped in a couple of dragons.
Dragons like caves, and I guess they like to

That was a fun early morning art exercise, but it looks better when it isn't reduced for a blog.
Oh well.

And last but not least... something from JWildfire:

I used to do these almost exclusively on cold winter nights But I've strayed away from those since Rich's illnesses. He'd be busy doing something else and I'd sit near by with my laptop whirring and creating abstract designs like crazy.

Not so much now.
The weather straightened up and the sun came out. The snow stopped and I had an opportunity to go on the ridge and go cross country skiing with the neighbors...

And after that...
it was a dog walk.
I should have worn snow shoes!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Walk on the wild side

I read the forecast and it isn't a nice one for those who dislike cold. The current temperature at noon was 7 degrees and sunny. There was a wind chill but I wasn't on the ridge so I didn't plan on getting too worried about it.

I carefully layered my clothes and put on my outdoor gear. Charlie protested from his crate. He was quite upset. However, I didn't want to take him down along the creek in such cold weather. His low profile would mean his chest would get wet if he got into water. I wanted to explore the latest snow fall and freeze without the distraction of carrying a dog.

I grabbed an odd colored extra long summer scarf thingy and wrapped it around my neck. I'd gone with a black face mask, stocking cap, and hoody to keep my head warm. I opted for my over the glasses sunglasses to protect my eyes from the cold breeze instead of my goggles. Note to self...Goggles next time, they keep more of my face warm!

I actually got too warm more than once and had to pull the mask down and the hood off. The sun was strong down in the valley and when I was out of the wind it was quite comfortable.

I planned a hike because there was not much I could do about the skidsteer and the tire situation on a Sunday.

And so I started off.
Interesting to note that I took a pocket camera and my Olympus camera.
I think next cold snap I hike, I will just take the tiny pocket camera.

My tracks.... and snow bombs off the trees

The photo above may be my favorite of the day.
I call it Tribbles.
Anyone recall The Trouble with Tribbles?
Old Star Trek show!

So I did something a lot different here, I just grabbed several photos and uploaded them into a short 1 minute video. If you wish to look at it...

I thought I'd try it this way and see what happens.
I also made the music on Dell Music Maker. It isn't great but it will do.

Besides, it is -10 outside and I am waiting a bit for the sun to peek over the trees before I go out to do chores this morning.

Then it is a trip to town to see about the skidsteer tire and grab some groceries.
I have no idea if we'll be able to put things back together on this cold tonight.

Late tonight we are going to have freezing precip and then snow fall up to 6 inches and possibly more.

What bad timing I guess for a breakdown. However, at least I am not in a hurry if I get my town things done today ... to go anywhere for the rest of the week.

It may mean skipping CrossFit, but I know ol man winter likes to give us a 'What To' once in a while this time of year anyway.

If you view the video, thanks. If not, that is okay too.

Looks like this week will be an interesting one.

I also got Rich to agree to going to our local clinic to see if we can get into some OT or PT locally for his bum knee. It will fall solely on Medicare, but I think it would be better to travel 10 miles one way than 90 miles for something like PT/OT if it can help him.

I do know that those folks at Vernon Memorial are miracle workers. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Skidsteers, Charlie, Mules oh my

We had a nice snow fall. The NOAA said we were going to have a Winter Storm Warning with blowing snow and then dangerously cold temperatures.

The snow started early Friday and we'd had a couple of inches by chore time.

The mules and 15 waited in the woods for supper with their snow blankets on.

One may think that they would be cold.
However, if you were to stick your hand under that snow, you would find a warm fluffy layer of their winter coat and their skin is warm. I do take my hands and run it up under the snow-coat just to be sure.

By morning we'd had about Charlie Chin High Snow. This is our new measure. How high is the snow on Charlie?

Here Charlie plows through the snow while assisting with chores.
I fueled up the skidsteer and plugged in the engine block to warm it up as I went in the shed to get my sled of hay.

The mules follow me along the fenceline with little grunts and sometimes a little braying. If they hear the sled on snow or on grass, they are coming at the trot.
I used to use this sled to lead our cattle from one paddock to another.

Feed. Animals always follow feed.

Mica has been moved to her own little paddock with Lil' Richard. She eats so slowly that the other mules were limiting her intake of food.
Anyway, Charlie quickly decided that sitting on the porch was wiser. He could watch me walk in the deep snow and he could sit in the sun.

Here is the view from the porch. The heated water tank is to the right outside of the photo and in the wooded area. The one nice thing about living in a hollow is that the cold winds can be dodged just by moving around most of the time.
The mules by noon were taking naps in the sunlight right there were I had fed them.

I started up the skidsteer and everything went very well. I was almost finished when I thought I'd take one more swipe by the house and make it easier to park by the kitchen door to unload groceries. This is a tight area and normally I scoop up snow and back out.
I decided to make a tight turn instead.

[Truth be told, skid steers do make tight turns all of the time, that is the beauty of having one.]
For whatever reason I heard a loud PFFFFT and immediately shut it down. I climbed out and saw that a tire came off the rim. Uh...Oh.

Rich was upset. He got that quiet tone with me and told me how much I messed up in no uncertain terms. He went on and on citing multiple issues about how difficult things were now. How I'd left it in a bad place, how I'd messed up.

In some ways I knew it may have been his frustration in knowing that he couldn't get out there and 'fix' the problem. He went on to tell me that I'd ruined a tire and that it could cost $150 just for a tire. I thought that was odd since that sum of money was not an issue.
I was driven to tears and then I got angry.
Nope. He couldn't be nice.

So I walked out of the house and called my neighbor's cell phone and left a message.
When I came back in Rich demanded to know what was for lunch. I wanted to knock my Halo off and tell him to figure it out. I wanted to tell him off. Instead I took out the dish I'd prepared for him the night before and set it on the counter.

Let him figure out how to warm it up while I figure out how to solve the skidsteer issue.

I must admit. I'd done a pretty good job so far.

And the problem could most likely be solved. Yes it was cold and yes I may have damaged the tire. But these things can be fixed and it was not gloom and doom. Nor was the world going to end because the tire came off the rim.

I went out with a scoop shovel and waited for Justin to arrive.

The issue became this. How to get the metal tracks off with the bucket in the way. Okay we used the boom lock out.
Then we used the bucket to pick up the front of the skidsteer and blocked it to keep it in place with the tracks folded out of the way.

After we figured out all the logistics, we were able to take off the tire and the rim. The bead was broken on the outside of the tire but not the inside.
Justin attributed it to low tire pressure and me turning over and over again.

These are things I wouldn't really know as a novice skidsteer driver. He was calm and explained everything he was doing and his reasoning behind it.
He also told me that I should think of this as a learning experience...he did.

By dark we had the tire off.
We'd spent 2 hrs in the cold working together.

By supper it seemed Rich was no longer upset, in fact he seemed to have forgotten the incident.

Charlie? He was content in bringing peace to the house by snuggling up to the Grumpy Guy and dropping a tennis ball at his feet.

So it goes.

Today it is frigid.
So I think I'll go for a nice long walk down the valley out of the wind.
After all, I have the gear for it and I can't stand to sit inside all day.

Tomorrow I'll take the tire into the shop and hopefully Justin and I can put things back together. I will learn more than I need to know about skidsteers.

Plus this spring I will have the implement company we bought it from come out and get it. It needs an overhaul/maintenance job. I'm not really prepared to learn all about changing filters and fuses, hydraulic fluids, and other things...not yet.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Young Me...

I heard about the 'aging' photo challenge on FB by accident the other day. Guess I'm not one of those that likes selfies.
Nor do I like to remind myself of how weathered my face has become. I say weathered because I think it is kinder than saying old and wrinkled.

Perhaps the weather does have a lot to do with my skin. I don't really protect it from the rough dry winter air while hiking. I do use sunscreen on my face but most of the time I forget.

I don't spend much time indoors. Even with the snow fall today, I was out picking up branches and sticks from the blow down we had two years ago. I tossed hundreds of chunks of wood, bark, and sticks onto a small brush fire that I have had going since 10 am this morning.
[It is now nearly 3:30 pm and I am done in!] I can't believe how many branches and dead old wood I picked up from the north side of the little shed.

I explained to Rich that I may as well go in there and clean it up while there were no weeds growing and while there were no bugs. Besides, it is much better to do something like that than sitting in the house watching the snow fall to the ground.

I tidied up in the large shed and gave Mica and extra helping of hay. I put the hay to put out for this evening in the large black carcass sled.

It looks like I may have to drive the skid steer again this weekend. We were only supposed to get a few inches. Well that changed to the change of a bunch. There is a prediction of up to 9 inches or maybe only 5.
The temperatures are going to plummet again which will make the ice formations do more interesting things along the creek bottom.

Oh wait...
I started out talking about the Aging Challenge photos. Huh.
Well here are a few young photos of me over the years.

My brother had many of my father's slides scanned and digitalized.

Here are a few of my younger self.

I believe this is the winter of 1965. I'm standing watching Kilauea in the distance. I'm actually at the Halemaumau vent. I'm sure that has changed.

Here we are as a family. Dad is taking the photo. We are on the Devastation Trail which was a boardwalk then. We drove the whole park on the Chain of Craters Road which was closed in 1969 because of a lava flow. However, it keeps getting rebuilt on top of the new lava flows....

There I am in the middle belly surfing on stryofoam boards at Hapuna Beach, this was before their was the Queen's Highway to Kona. And this was before the Mauna Kea Hotel was built just north of Hapuna.
There were no shelters or bathrooms then either.

Years later?

Hapuna Beach:

My mother is on the right and I am on the left. I think this is one of my favorite photos of all time. My mom and I look like sisters. Dad caught us in a moment where we aren't paying attention to each other but mom and I ... are both lost in our own thoughts...

There it is ... the young me.

Reading Far Side of Fifty's Blog has brought back fond memories just as my brother began posting photos.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rabbit and Bear

For a while Rabbit and Bear had disappeared from my photography.

Rabbit and Bear have returned.
[It is how I help deal with what is happening to Rich.]

Depression is an ongoing thing. It takes the smile away from the person I have laughed with and shared jokes with. The prankster has gone away, I haven't seen him in such a long time. Smiles are rare.

My sweet love is encased in something intangible, untouchable. There is no way to reach through that barrier and pull him through.

So I sit with him in the morning while he has his coffee and watch him look out the window. I ask him what he sees and he blinks slowly and looks at me as if I just appeared from another dimension.
He answers: I am Nowhere.
As if Nowhere is a place.

His mind and body aches and hurts. He walks as though there is a crushing weight on him. 

This is how it is. 
I can't make him better. 

This is the story behind Rabbit and Bear.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Ice Hunting part II

After breakfast, we packed our backpacks and made sure that Rich was comfortable. He said he was going to lay down and nap.

So the Gang and I + Dogs, headed towards the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. KVR had their annual Winterfest going on and we went past the building and headed out to the area that I'd explored in mid December just days before Rich's hospitalization.

Those who run the reserve have put up some signs that would help a person locate the 'Ice Caves', but if you are a person that understands how our peculiar landscape works, you'd have no trouble finding the ones that are popular and the ones that others usually don't know about.

We wore ice cleats or Yak Traks. With all the snow melt and rain we'd had earlier this week any trails would be ice packed. Extra traction really does help.

We took Scout and Charlie and they had a blast. I was amazed at how athletic Charlie really is with those short stubby legs of his.

Here is a pano shot much like one I did in December. Except there is Daryl in the middle-right of the photo for perspective.

When walking up on this place you become literally stunned by how large it is and how incredible it is.
I stood with my friends and asked them if our eyes were deceiving us like I felt it had last month.

Doesn't it look like there are floating islands of trees? I thought it was just how things looked in the camera.
But we all agreed, it was bizarre and beautiful.

We came in above the second formation. The 'caves' are large enough to stand in. The warm winter and the recent rains have melted the old ice and the recent cold snap is freezing the water that is coming through the rocks.
In the above shot, there is Daryl again to the right and to the left is Charlie...or is it Scout? I can't tell!

Well this should give you some sort of idea what it was like. In a really cold winter, this would be a wall of ice of multiple colors from all the minerals in the land and rocks.

Charlie is inspecting a cascade of ice that has fallen in the last warm up.

Below...just other cool shots.

In this area, we stopped and ate some snacks and the hot chocolate I carried in the tiny thermos was so delicious.

We traveled along the ridge top and then descended into the valley next to the creek. This was not a creek like the one in our little valley. This was a proper creek.

We stood looking around and then noticed the ice on the sandy 'bluff' of the creek.

The colors were amazing and you could see where the water had been higher during the first part of the week.

I picked up Charlie as I was afraid that he'd get out on the thin ice along the edge of the creek.
My friend Amanda snapped a shot of us.
I love this photo!

Further down the creek we spotted some odd colored ice.

I called it 'Sherbert Ice' ....really, it looked orange!

To get a proper shot of this ice, we'd have had to walk around back to the parking lot and then follow another long trail to get across the creek to see this.
It really would have been worth it.

But we headed back to the vehicle and headed home, so we could rest and eat supper.

After dark we planned on a night hike with head lamps.

I didn't get many good shots, I didn't dress warm enough for some reason. However watching the clouds and the stars above was worth the bit of chill I had.

There is nothing that beats a night hike with friends....
Here are a couple of shots... and how we set up.

My shot didn't turn out very well for this experiment. In fact it sort of came out quite ugly. However I did nab a shot of the ice wall in our creek. You can see the water slowly seeping over the ice that is already there. I had my friends use their headlamps to light up the area.

And then there is the utter failure of a shot of the creek just using a crescent moon.

All was not lost however.

I loved discovering the Orange Ice.
And in one of the ice caves I found an intriguing ice shape.

I'll leave you with my favorite shot of the weekend.

Ice Sculpture: