Friday, February 20, 2015

So Little Time

Racing from one hole in the dike to the next is hard work. Right now we're still in the deep freeze here in NC, which makes for some real hard work, as well as the typing sort. This morning I got up to discover that the power was out. Up until this point we had not lost our water. Two light bulbs at critical locations, and allowing the faucets to drip slightly. Without power, the bulbs were out and the pressure tank in the well house would soon empty and not refill. It was also very cold outside, which I discovered when I went out for more wood. The stove back here in the part of the house we mostly live in had burned down in the night, with only the tiniest of embers remaining. I split up some of the dwindling supply of very dry oak, cut and covered two seasons back now, then laid the small pieces on top of some split red cedar. Pretty soon the fire was going again. Meanwhile Libby was calling the power company, where she discovered that the outage had been reported at 6:14. They were hunting the problem and hoped for restoration by 9 AM. Not bad news. Better was the few minutes later when the lights came back on. The water had not frozen in the lines either!

Yesterday I went out to the road to check on the vehicles. I had hopes of actually driving somewhere. What we've had here is sleet with a dusting of snow, and temps below freezing (and indeed near zero) for three days running. It's not the usual NC weather, and the usual NC winter ways do not account well for it. I had thought, prior to this arctic visit, that we were well into next season's firewood. I will now at least subtract the "well" from that description, and be prepared to continue to erase the modifiers as the weather does what it will in the coming days. Allegedly we are going to be getting mid-50s and rain this weekend. In the meantime, here's what I wrote yesterday, about my trip to the road:

The Siberian Zephyr

The week of Daytona, 2015, a huge mass of cold air came rushing over the north pole and down at North Carolina. The weather event began with a sleet storm, which was expected to be freezing rain as warm air was over-rising cold (I think I have that right), but luckily for us the vertical extent of the cold air was more than expected, so the rain turned to sleet, which was hard and slippery but did not cause limbs to break and allowed our power to stay on. After a day of slick hard sleeted ground, the roads so slippery driving anywhere was inconceivable, the real cold arrived, the first morning being 5 degrees above zero, with a high of 20 not counting wind chill, and tonight expected to be some lower even, before the cold mass was exhausted, or pushed north again to where it “belonged,” or whatever happens to it. By Saturday (this being Thursday afternoon) we're expecting rain, which should make it finally possible to drive again. This will be about time, as the cat food is going to run out Saturday it looks like. We've got enough lardered up—Libby even brought home a big rack of ribs she's yet to cook, because she pulled her back carrying things in from a late-night trip to the Walmart just before it all commenced, Monday night. She's been laid up mainly since. When I got up today I started up both stoves, which is just about a full days work, adding one piece of wood here, one there, back and forth and keep a cat from escaping into the frozen wild with your hands full of firewood if you can. We're also as it happens hoarding the propane that keeps the kitchen warm and also runs the cook stove. I go in there and turn on the heater every few hours for a while, just to make the fridge turn on. Strangely, in a very cold kitchen the modern refrigerator will act the opposite of what you might think, keeping the cold out and not running enough to maintain cold enough temps inside. The best place for the milk might be the north-facing porch just off the kitchen, till things get back to NC normal on Saturday.

From inside, in the sunny early afternoon, it looked pretty normal as it was, and the stoves had done their work. I thought maybe the roads would be good enough to drive to town and get a few things. One thing was a better clamp-on work light, that would take a 100 watt bulb. Libby had gotten two packs of the old incandescent 100 watters because with the temperatures falling like they were predicting, I figured it'd be some insurance against the worst eventuality, which would be frozen pipes. But it turned out, when I went out after the sleet storm to put in fresh bulbs, that the light at where the water pipe is briefly exposed, as it enters the house, that the clamp-on at that place would not allow more than the old 60 watt that it already was running—some sort of sensor could tell if it was drawing more, and shut down. So we found (and still) ourselves all in readiness for even zero degrees tonight, but with only an old 60 watt bulb, no more 60s even in the house, everything's been switched to the florescent curlies which certainly do save money and energy, but do not put out any heat, dammit. The world of course is not designed much for the random elderly hippies who thought it was “nice” to try to live in the kinda old way, picking and choosing what to accept from the new junk that comes down from on high or Walmart at six month intervals.

So as it looked normal and possibly the road by now would be driveable, I walked out to the truck where I'd parked it in the power-line cut beside the driveway, on the far side of the hill between us and the macadam. It was not a bad walk as far as the cold, but the sleet surface was slick and hard and I walked mostly in the rougher brush. There wasn't enough on the ground to make that slick too. When I got out to the truck I could see it was still icy on the road, and as I walked back onto the driveway I hit a particularly slick spot and fell, legs shot straight out as they'll do on an ice fall, landing on my left hand and shoulder, hoping that all the bones were still ok as I lay on my back on the ice for a few seconds, looking at the blue sky and a few bare branches and the power line stringing past overhead, and wondering if the folks in the trailer across the road might have been watching, or might come out to check on me if I was hurt. But I wasn't hurt, and no one came. It occurred to me that I'd not brought along the cell-phone, which was a little dumb of me, because it worked on this side of the hill and I could have called back to our home phone if, say, my arm had been broken. But I got up and brushed myself off, and waked back over the hill and down to our house through the woods, skipping all the slip possibilities of the driveway. In fact, if I'd decided to try driving the paved road, I might never have been able to drive back into the driveway, it was so slick.

So here I am, back inside, nice and warm. Another wood round is about due. It is very bright and sparkly in the afternoon sun. We'd got up quite a bit of wood in the couple of good working days before the weather came, some big dead stuff the power company cut down while they were clearing brush along the right of way, which I split up and Libby got down to the stacking area in the truck that's now out at the road. The end of February is only a week away. We might even be pretty close to the end of serious fires for this year, just a couple of pieces of the evening to take the chill off. It's been 90 in March. This is a good example of what the old folks called "wishful thinking," by the way.


In the meantime, Juan Cole wrote this:

A brief quote:

And it seems pretty clear that by referring to how Obama was brought up, Giuliani has just spit on the graves of the Dunham family.

In contrast, Rudy Giuliani never served in the US military and nor did his father (his grandparents immigrated from Italy). As for how he was brought up (and this isn’t his fault), his father Harold served time in Sing Sing for robbery and then was a soldier in an organized crime operation in Brooklyn that ran a gambling racket and did loan sharking.

I don’t know, maybe Harold raised Mr. Giuliani to love the country that offered him the opportunity to break people’s legs for not paying their vig.

And here you have to wonder if Giuliani’s bizarre trashing of Obama is a form of projection, if it is Rudy Giuliani who wasn’t raised to love his grandparents’ adopted country.

Obama and Giuliani are both from relatively recent immigrant backgrounds, but no one asked to see Giuliani’s birth certificate.

Cole offers some brief history of Mr. Obama's family, including their records in World War II, prior to the quote. While Giuliani has a long history of popping off inappropriately, this latest is pretty depressing. It's also the standard fare in Republican circles. Mitt Romney said a number of similar things during the past Presidential campaign, including his quip that "no one needs to ask where I was born." The Republicans just can't help it. They view themselves as the privileged, and even the latecomers, including the Romney family, who came back from exile in Mexico for polygamist issues, and the Giuliani's, recently of Italy and Sing Sing, ache to punch down as quickly as they can.

This is the Republican gift to their membership, psychologically. It's tempting fair, even as it rots the heart with its empty calories, and brings little warmth. Don't fret, little ones. You can always look down at someone from here.

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