Freezing Fog? Graupel? The Weather Just Keeps Coming!

After enjoying all the snow on Sunday, things thawed away yesterday, leaving really big puddles to slog though as I went to care for the horses and chickens. The chickens were pretty funny wading away and looking more like ducks. I enjoyed watching how the water flowed as it made its way to Walker’s Creek, which was more flooded yesterday than right after it snowed. Anyway, sunset was nice.

Slogging along!

It was at least pretty when the sunset reflected in the mush.

Overnight it got really cold (for here). The cold weather combined with the very moist ground led to something I don’t recall experiencing before, freezing fog. It was really eerie looking this morning. The sun was having a hard time peeking through, and all the areas that had turned green or brown were white again.

The fog was starting to lift

The frost was very heavy on the grass, and truly looked beautiful. I wish I could have stayed for a long time taking pictures of the frost on tree branches and such, but I had to go to a company meeting. Boo hoo.

As if that freezing fog wasn’t interesting enough, there was another kind of frozen precipitation down at the other farm near Yorktown (the farm Lee inherited from his dad), where Kathleen and the family are right now.

Kathleen was baffled by this stuff, but then she found out it’s graupel.

Graupel, also called soft hail or snow pellets,[1] is precipitation that forms when supercooled water droplets are collected and freeze on falling snowflakes, forming 2–5 mm (0.08–0.20 in) balls of rime.[2]

From Wikipedia – check the links to learn more

I guess the frozen fog and the graupel both are types of rime. I would attempt to summarize what rime is, but think I should probably just let you see what Wikipedia says. I had no idea there were so many kinds of ice (or I forgot, since I have not taken a weather class in a long time).

Rime ice forms when supercooled water liquid droplets freeze onto surfaces. Meteorologists distinguish between three basic types of ice forming on vertical and horizontal surfaces by deposition of supercooled water droplets. There are also intermediate formations.

  • Soft rime is less dense than hard rime and is milky and crystalline, like sugar. Soft rime appears similar to hoar frost.
  • Hard rime is somewhat less milky, especially if it is not heavy.
  • Clear ice is transparent and homogeneous and resembles ice-cube ice in appearance. Its amorphous, dense structure helps it cling tenaciously to any surface on which it forms.

Both rime types are less dense than clear ice and cling less tenaciously, therefore damage due to rime is generally minor compared to clear ice. Glaze ice is similar in appearance to clear ice but it is the result of a completely different process, occurring during freezing rain or drizzle.

Well, that was informative.

I’ve had lots of experience with freezing rain, and have seen graupel before, but only a couple of times. The freezing fog was a first, though. Isn’t it amazing how Mother Nature always has something surprising to share?

Lee took this picture of the house in snow after it got sunny. You can see the snow is already off the trees.

How’s your weather? Weird? Good? Bad, but in a non-interesting way?

Cozy Transition Shawl

I’ve interrupted my planned cadence of knitting projects to finish with the leftover yarn from the afghan. I have a long-time friend who’s transitioning from male to female, and I wanted to make her something to feel cozy and loved in while recovering from surgery at the end of the month. The yarn happens to have colors pretty close to the trans flag, which is a nice coincidence.

The only image on my stock image site that has the trans flag on it. Plus a Harvey dog! Image by @arty_kat via Twenty20

I figured a shawl would do the trick, and that it would work up quickly in the bulky yarn. Ha ha, that WOULD have been true if I hadn’t started the darned thing three times. That’s to be expected if you’re making something up, of course. The first time, didn’t like my cast-on, so I ripped out a few inches.

The second time, I set off to make a stockinette stitch (smooth on one side, bumpy on the other, for those non-knitters who made it to the third paragraph) triangular shawl. I got into the third stripe, but started doubting myself, and thought maybe I was increasing wrong, because the straight side didn’t look like it was straight. I ripped that all out (it’s called “frogging” because you rip-it, rip-it).

All annoyed at myself, I looked for a pattern on Ravelry for a simple, triangular shawl, so I’d be sure to make the right shape. Of course, when I found them, I realized I hadn’t screwed up before. Sigh. But the good news is that I found a pattern with a little texture in it that might look good with the stripes, called LaLa’s Simple Shawl. I knew I’d have to adjust the pattern, since as the shawl gets bigger, the stripes will get more narrow. Here’s what it looks like so far:

Bonus Carlton head! You can see it has some garter stitch and eyelets (that look like lumps right now).

Sure enough, by the time I got to the white stripe, I was having to add more yarn from the other ball. That’s just fine, because I have the yarn. Once I finish the next color, the purply-pink, I will switch it out and do one stripe in stockinette and one in garter until it’s the right size.

Stitches in extreme close-up

I am hoping to have enough yarn left by the time it’s long enough to bind off in a cute picot (little sawtooth kind of shapes), which will look nice and make sure the shawl is flowy. We’ll see.

This is a picot bind-off. Image from this article in Knitty 2006.

My goal is to get finished by next weekend, which is plenty of time. I hope to see the recipient in a few weeks. If not, I can mail it to her.

I hope this description of trial and error gives any of you who are not very confident knitters the courage to just give things a try and start over again if they don’t work out. Sometimes you get something a lot better than what you started out trying to do!

Snow Update

This isn’t enough for a whole blog post, but I wanted to share that the roads in Milam County were fine, and I made it to work. We lost a big tree limb at the office, but it didn’t hit any cars or the building, so that’s good. The power was out at the Bobcat Lair house for 7 hours, but Anita and Pickle survived.

The sun is now busy melting the snow!

Best Day for Unusual Snowfall Is Sunday

Hooray! The minute I wrote that the weather was boring, it started getting interesting. While we do get a dusting of snow here in Central Texas, today is the first time I’ve ever seen it really snow. It’s been as pretty as when I was in Utah!

Here’s the woods next to the house.

We got around 4 inches as the day went on, and at times it snowed pretty hard. I’m so glad I didn’t have to work today, because all I did was look out the window

Around midday

The most fun, though has been going out and playing with the dogs. Here’s the best one.

Alfred discovers snow. It’s barely covering the ground here.

Penney and Carlton acted like the snow was a big present for them. I’ve never seen them happier. Here’s the first time they went out.

Whee!

Harvey finds sheltered spots to pee, then comes back in. Not a snow dog. The others sure are. I took Penney and Carlton out in the woods, and the joy all three of us felt was enough to erase all my stress.

Continue reading “Best Day for Unusual Snowfall Is Sunday”

Boring Weather Update

Hmph. So many local people I know are posting photos of their kids seeing their first snow and such. What do we have at the Hermits’ Rest Ranch? Rain. Sleet at best.

Yep. We managed to get right between the snowy parts. There was some “wintry mix” earlier, because I see white stuff outside and there is some ice on the metal roof. and the precipitation is falling at an odd angle.

Squint your eyes and you can see white.

All is not lost, though. the temperature is going down. We may well get some pretty stuff to enjoy. And I don’t have to drive today!

Glad to have a closet organization project to work on in between knitting and reading my next fascinating book.

My cute organization boxes! Better than a line of shoeboxes!

I’ll be back with something more interesting than this slice of my Sunday morning later today. So far, all I have is watching murders of crows fly back and forth and looking at sleet. I have confidence we will get our rare mid-Texas snow!

How to make it snow

Blog that you’re pouting about a lack of snow. This is less than 5 minutes after I first posted.

That’s snow.

When’s a Good Time to Finish a Warm Blanket?

I know! I know! The ideal time is when there’s a winter storm warning for later in the day, with a forecast of snow! I got the bulky-weight afghan I made for my relative long enough to cover them (I added 5 inches to the length, since I had plenty of yarn).

Finished blanket before blocking

Now I just have to block it, which will happen this evening when I get back to the ranch. I started a little bonus project with the leftover yarn, which I’ll show you later.

Those of you who want the pattern will find it on the Caron site. And those of you who want to see more color possibilities can visit this page. The yarn is available at Michael’s in the US.

Exciting Saturday Activities

That heating unit above the window is doing its best.

Speaking of being at my office, here’s a newsflash. Old houses with no insulation are cold when it’s cold outside. I’m really glad I put my desk in the middle of the room, because the exterior wall is brisk and has draughts. Duh. I knew that. So, I just bundle up and fire up my little fake fireplace heater. The mini-split unit is belching warm air, but the exterior cold is too much for it. I also discovered that a warm meal helps, so I got chicken and dumplings from Dairy Queen. Well, it was warm, at least.

The scary-eyed kitties have shed their Christmas décor, the better to stare at me.

Now I just need to finish taking all the Christmas stuff down and replacing it with hearts and such. That requires going outside, ugh. While I’m at it, I’m going to spruce up my closet. Away with the 50 shoeboxes! In with organizers!

I am NOT complaining that I have a boring and domestic weekend ahead of me. Boring seems really good, and hiding in my house watching snow sounds way better than witnessing mayhem.

These two will be rotating who sits on my lap the rest of the day. Not bad.

Speaking of Warm Blankets

I also put the really warm blanket on Lakota, the old horse. I am hoping I did it right. I took three tries to figure out the front from the back. Lucky for me, Lakota was patient about it. All the other horses and Fiona have thick winter coats, so they are fine.

I also managed not to step in that horrid mud puddle while blanketing him.

I wish all of you a calm respite, since I don’t think things will be completely calm for a while.

Let’s Help Inarticulate Beings

This week, I’ve taken my mind off things by observing my surroundings and seeing when I’ve been helpful without realizing it. Actually, one of the main ways I’ve gotten through the past few years has been knowing that, while I can’t fix big problems, I can often help with smaller problems that might be big to someone else, even those who don’t realize it or can’t express it in words.

I can’t show you the actual dog and me on our drive, so enjoy this actor portrayal of a prettier person and dog. Image by @darinatravel via Twenty20.

For example, today I helped get a dog from Austin to Cameron, as part of my Milam Touch of Love volunteer work that I don’t do nearly enough of. That wasn’t much of a big deal on my part. I happened to be going from Austin to Cameron anyway, and just made a detour. To the dog’s owner, someone in crisis, this was a huge deal and solved a huge, nasty problem. The owner said those of us helping out were sent from Heaven. No, we are people who know that the right thing to do when you know of a person or animal in need and you CAN help, you DO help. It’s doing the right thing, not out of fear, but out of respect and love.

The dog was confused, and had no idea it needed help. It could not thank me other than with a wagging tail. But I knew I helped and am glad it’s safe.

Changing the Subject Somewhat

In the dog transport case, my friends and I knew we were doing something helpful. But, as I observed some of ways I’ve helped some living things. Since they can’t talk, we had to pay attention to see how we’ve helped. I’m talking about plants here.

My pothos (Golden Queen) in my office (also some other plant is in there). The leaves are not very big.

How do you know you’ve helped a houseplant? Well, it will grow and thrive in a place that’s not where it naturally would end up. Most house plants are really tropical plants that have been hybridized to do okay in pots. Usually they don’t get very big in our houses.

Both spider plants and pothos are way bigger when they grow outdoors, but are usually pretty small in our homes. Pothos or devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) leaves can be 39×18″ in the wild! They don’t bloom spontaneously, sniff. I know they are happy when the leaves don’t start dropping off.

Epipremnum aureum is an evergreen vine growing to 20 m (66 ft) tall, with stems up to 4 cm (2 in) in diameter, climbing by means of aerial roots which adhere to surfaces. The leaves are alternate, heart-shaped, entire on juvenile plants, but irregularly pinnatifid on mature plants, up to 100 cm (39 in) long and 45 cm (18 in) broad; juvenile leaves are much smaller, typically under 20 cm (8 in) long.

Wikipedia
My Golden Queen is not as big as this mama.
A spider plant blossom. By Wildfeuer – Self-photographed, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1460984

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) get up to two feet tall in nature (I’ve seen it, since I’ve lived in the subtropics), and I know mine are happy when they bloom. Or that means they’re rootbound. They don’t talk a lot. I feel like the little bonus plants they grow are little gifts to me, even though I’ve seen them take over huge areas when there is no freezing weather to keep them under control.

Anita grows a lot of cactus plants and succulents. They show her she’s taken good care of them by growing, but more excitingly, by blooming. We both get excited when one of her plants blooms. Take a look at this one!

The plant just threw up a big ole stalk and bloomed.
That’s quite a stalk (and quite a cool effect the double-paned windows make with the reflections!)

Many of my own house plants have been around a long time. I’ve had some bad luck lately, but when a plant is happy, it stays. Here is a house plant a money tree Pachira aquatica) that we’ve had for well over a decade, and it was a gift from another family when they moved.

The way-too-big houseplant. Also, note pothos that is less happy than the other one. It’s getting moved and repotted soon.
It’s a flowering tree that also has edible nuts. By © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7898452

This poor plant lived a long time on the deck while the Bobcat Lair house was getting renovated, where it got too much sun, received too little water, was besieged by aphids, and looked very sad. We had no place to put it in the casita!

It had tiny leaves, and most had fallen off. I kept wondering if I should put it out of its misery. But look! It’s funny looking, but it has nice big leaves now, which cover the plant. And it’s new growth is no longer sticky from aphids! It only took me a couple of years to fix that. I helped my old friend.

[I should never look on Wikipedia for stuff. I got all distracted discovering that this thing really IS a huge tree where it comes from, its flowers are the largest of any flowering tree, and it has edible nuts, when roasted. They call it the Malabar Chestnut. Raw nuts are toxic to rats. Enough of this.]

Monday.

Another plant I now realize I helped is this mother-in-law’s tongue/snake plant that was being thrown away when we moved to new offices at work. I have three different pots of it now, but the happiest one is at the Bobcat Lair. How do I know it’s happy? It’s going to bloom! I’ve never seen one of these bloom.

Friday

I discovered the little bloom stalk on Monday of this week. I’d hoped it would flower before I had to come back to Cameron.

But, the stalk is still growing. Maybe I’ll get to see the blossom next time I’m in town! I wonder if it’s blooming because it’s filled the container with leaves and feels the need to reproduce, or if it’s telling me thanks for giving it such good light and appropriate watering for the past few years. You just can’t tell. But, I’m convinced that I helped.

Seeing my plant companions thriving makes ME grateful, so I’ve helped both inarticulate friends and myself. Plus, contributing to life on this planet feels to me like it’s creating some balance, which we need. Not everything is destructive and selfish. Kindness is out there! We can help.

Here’s a photo of what the blossoms look like. In the wild, there will then be orange berries! By Arungolas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89254511

What Motivates Doing the Right Thing?

Last night, while I could not get to sleep. I was watching lawmakers on television suddenly deciding to say things that made sense, that would calm people down, and that might lead to a better society. I cynically thought to myself that they didn’t do this as long as pretending to be loyal to an incompetent leader was to their advantage. How did they know when it was time to do the right thing rather than the thing that they knew was wrong, but would keep them in power?

I’d have been scared, too. [Papers and other materials litter the chamber after House were evacuated as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)]

I don’t know. It could be fearing for their lives as their buddies tried to break into the building where all the non-President leadership of the US was hanging out. Perhaps the incompetent leader finally became so incompetent that there was no more pretending “He was just kidding, ya know, that’s how he is. What a card!”

Get off my lawn! I wouldn’t want to piss him off, whoever he is, but guessing from the moss, he may be Florida Man. Image by @AM__ARTISTRY via Twenty20

The lawmakers’ actions aren’t unfamiliar to many of us, I’m sure. Sometimes it’s so much easier to just ignore something that’s wrong, but more trouble to correct than to live with. To be honest, I’m doing that, myself, with a situation I know needs to be remedied, but I can’t figure out a way to do it without making a bunch of people angry, hurt, or put out. That can have dire consequences. Hmm. Yes, that’s just like the lawmakers’ dilemma.

I can tell those government representatives to just suck it up and not hand over the power to affect their courage to stand up for reason to the personality-cult members who voted for them. But then I’d need to tell myself to suck it up, too. I’m no better than they are. Probably a LOT of us give people who make a lot of noise and make life difficult the power to affect what we do.

Ya know, jerk, facial recognition software exists. You may experience…consequences.

But, we know what’s right. Perhaps the lawmakers are beginning to see that by treating a minority of loud and upset people with kid gloves, they are putting everyone else in danger, including themselves.

I just want to see some logical consequences start to occur. Jerks to jail, lawmakers remember why they were elected…reason. Civility. Back to dreaming.

Image by @annie29 via Twenty20.

Maybe. I don’t know. It’s a really confusing time.

Book Report: The Fabric of Civilization

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How appropriate that I finished this book just as civilization began to unravel where I live. But, here’s a nice post about nothing scary. It’s about The Fabric of Civilization, by Virginia Postrel (2020). From the five stars in my rating, you may infer that I enjoyed this book. Whew, I sure did.

This was one fascinating book. Postrel sure did her job by showing that a topic people might thing was boring and insignificant, cloth, is actually critical to the development of much of human culture and civilization. The best news is that this one’s written in an interesting and fun style that makes you want it to go on and on and on.

One of the best points Postrel makes is that, while we go on and on about wearing natural fibers, none of the fibers we wear is in the natural state for the plant or animal from which it comes. Wild cotton is almost all seeds. Today’s cultivated and carefully hybridized silkworms would not last long at all out in the natural mulberry groves, wherever those are. Wild sheep are brown and shed their wool (thank goodness, since there’s no one out there on a mountainside to shear wild sheep).

As Postrel goes through the chapters, each of which is a self-contained unit you could read by itself, you learn how fabric contributed to civilization way more than just by covering people up. It was one of the earliest forms of money. Trading it led to the development of bookkeeping and checking. Figuring out new ways to create fiber has led to all sorts of scientific discoveries, from way back when people were trying to figure out how to dye fabric (I can’t get away from that topic) up to today, when they are trying to make clothing with batteries and computer chips in them that’s comfortable (comfort is the hard part).

One thing I wish is that the folks at Basic Books had budgeted for some color photographs. In a book that talks so much about weaving gold fabric and other shiny things, it sure would be nice to be able to see them in detail. The black-and-white images aren’t clear at all.

I should also warn you that it really helps to have some basic understanding of weaving, knitting, and looms to get the most out of the chapter on cloth. Thankfully, Postrel does include a glossary in the book (Judith Flanders, the author A Place for Everything, would appreciate that alphabetized learning aid). Plus, with 30 pages of end notes, you can rest assured research was involved in this.

One thing’s for sure, I will never take the clothing on my back, the upholstery on my chair, or any piece of fabric I come across for granted. Knowing me, I’ll analyze whether it’s woven or knitted (more likely knitted, since the vast majority of our clothing to day comes off knitting machines, not looms) and what the yarn or thread is made of. Then I’ll wonder how it was dyed…yep, even with all my years of working with fiber, I learned a lot from The Fabric of Civilization, and it’s sticking with me!

There’s Always Some Gallows Humor

Well, kids, I had a panic attack and came home from work this afternoon. On my way, I said to myself, “Oh, in case there’s chaos on the streets, I better fill the car with gas.” I also washed it (Lee’s car was filthy). Just because your society is collapsing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a clean vehicle.

Wait, here’s the humorous thing that came up this afternoon. My coworker and I were Zooming, attempting to do a work meeting. We stopped to watch Joe Biden give a good talk about how our country is about decency and the common good. I moved my laptop to where she could watch and listen to it with me. It felt good to not be alone.

In a split screen, the people occupying and vandalizing the US Capitol building were wandering around. A bunch of them had these yellow flags:

Hmm, that phrase sounds familiar.

This is a thing I don’t think about often. But, that phrase rang a bell. Oh yes, my friend Donna in Master Naturalists wrote a little blog post about an encounter she had with a non-venomous water snake recently. It was, as always, sweet, because she is so kind to all natural life.

She did, though, title it Don’t Tread on Me. You know, a wry commentary on those historical flags and slogans, but applied to an actual snake.

Well, let me tell you that posts on that blog usually get between 10-20 hits. Imagine my surprise when I saw 189 hits to that post the day it was published and 42 the next day. I hadn’t figured out what caused that, though I had some idea that someone shared it for some obscure reason.

I’m an innocent snake!

But, when I saw those flags, I realized that there were people out there searching for that phrase. I have a feeling they were disappointed.

I’m disappointed in a lot of people today. What a world, what a world.

Imagining What to Say about the News: My Dream

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I woke up this morning to happy news about the United States and its government (from my perspective). I am relieved to see that the way our system has been set up is holding up, at least so far. I fervently hope we can avoid violence and move toward a society I can be proud to live in.

WELL I’M NAIVE AND FOOLISH! I’M ASHAMED OF FELLOW US CITIZENS.

Readers of my blog have probably figured out that I fall on the liberal side of the political scale. While it’s true that I’m a pacifist, non-evangelical, pro-choice, democratic socialist, I’m not scary, out to eat you, or hell-bent on destroying anyone’s way of life. And I don’t want to live in a place that forces its citizens to toe some political line or suffer for their beliefs. I’m a big fan of diversity, and that’s why I’ve been having a hard time living in the US since our political parties have turned so violently against each other. How the heck are we supposed to accomplish anything at all if our only goal is to make the other team lose?

I hope that today’s events in the US, with actual elections, voted on by actual people, and certified by neutral parties can lead this supposed democratic republic back to sanity. I can dream, can’t I?

What I Want to See

I too, have a dream, like Dr. King did. In my dream people can:

  • Work together to make the lives of all citizens healthy and safe
  • If we participate in the political system as elected officials, do so to make the lives of the citizenry better, not to benefit a few people in power
  • Help the mentally challenged lead productive lives and contribute to society
  • Use our different viewpoints and perspectives to come to workable compromises for laws, regulations, and programs at the local, state, and national levels
  • Take care of the health of all citizens without causing undue financial burdens
  • Educate our children and adults to create a workforce of laborers, technicians, artists, scientists, and others to create a thriving society
  • Take care of the planet we live on and its non-human citizens as well as we take care of the humans
  • Celebrate our differences and learn from each other
  • Banish hate. Period. Friendly competition is great; hatred of the other is not.
  • Prioritize peace over war. Imagine what the world’s warriors could do if they didn’t have to spend so much time and energy on weapons and fighting.
  • Enjoy our religious traditions and cultural heritage without negating other people’s
  • Stay out of people’s private lives if they aren’t hurting anyone
  • Talk to each other. AND listen to each other
  • Celebrate beauty, hope, love, family, and all the good parts of life
  • Treat children as people, not property

I can be optimistic for one day. Yeah, Imagine.