The Sun Is So Bright

That yeah, we need shades. Wow is ole Sol making fast work of the ice. Even though it’s well below freezing outside, the ice is crashing and booming off the roof, and clear patches are starting to show up.

The image doesn’t do justice to the shininess.

The trees had rainbow diamonds in them this morning, and just look at the Chihuly sculpture our rain chain made!

Ice ice baby

I couldn’t write or work much yesterday, because the cell towers weren’t working. So Lee and I watched movies on DVD most of the day.

Cloudy yesterday.

I did make it out to check animals and see if we got any mail (no). Penney loved running and sliding on the ice. She went full tilt.

This is fun.

The layer of ice was over water in lots of spots. It was hard to find the right places to step. Neither Carlton nor I moved very fast.

This is NOT fun.

Ice is now falling off the roof again and booming, so the dogs are close by me. Penney and Carlton are even getting along!

All the toting and fetching of water has been hard on Ralph, so Sara and I are taking over for him now. I’m pretty sure the driveway has melted enough to get out! Freedom! Of course, the water supply is spotty.

From yesterday.

But, all in all, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, so I have my sunglasses ready. Maybe it will thaw out the water heater and heat pump and we can be clean and warm again inside!

Such a dreamer.

Diamond trees

I’m hearing my friends and coworkers in Austin are getting heat and power back, too. I sure hope some of the infrastructure issues can be fixed.

Reacting to Natural Disasters

Witnessing people’s reactions to the natural disaster event we’re going through here in central Texas has been most educational. People seem to fall into different groups, and I’ve been fascinated as I note their actions. I’ll share a few observations. Which of these are you?

Lee took this last night as the motion-sensor lights shone through icicles. Don’t stand under them.

The Helpers

I want to start out with these folks, because they impress me and keep my sliver of faith in humanity alive. All the sharing, caring and helping makes me so proud. Here are some examples I know of.

  • My coworker, Jason, lives out in the country near a road that has a banked curve. It froze over, of course, and people took it way too fast for the conditions (mostly because they were unaware). He and his son drove on a level back road until they were close to the road and proceeded to help people get unstuck, flagged cars down to slow them, and made sure everyone was safe. Most people had just abandoned their vehicles. He’s also monitoring the local NextDoor posts, and taking water and food to elderly neighbors. He sadly reported that some people just lectured others for not being prepared. I’m glad there are more people like him and his family out there being good neighbors.
  • My other coworkers are all sharing information, checking in, and offering to help. A woman in my department volunteered to boil water for people who have no electricity and can’t boil it for themselves (lots of people have neither water nor electricity right now).
  • Our business has a client who needs services, even in this weather. A Deputy from the Sheriff’s Department kindly drove our amazing Meghan to a neighboring smaller town than Cameron, because the roads were so bad. I can’t mention the kindnesses Meghan has performed this week, but some go way above and beyond her job duties.
Road conditions yesterday.

The Blamers

A lot of people with time and bandwidth seem to be using it to point fingers at various industries, businesses, and people for not doing a good enough job. I admit to being unhappy that nothing has been done about our road, with the icy bridge and the treacherous hill, but I know there are reasons for it (the district personnel had been under a COVID quarantine, AND Monday was a Federal holiday). I am trying to remember that no one set out to cause this mess on purpose. Still, I read a lot of this kind of stuff.

  • Texas is to blame for their own problems, because they are not on any US power grid. Well, none of US made that decision. Let’s deal with our weird system of buying power on an open marketplace and such later, and concentrate on making sure our linemen and other power service staff stay safe and get help.
  • The water companies are to blame for not maintaining pipes. Um. They need money to do that (and Cameron IS in the process of upgrading infrastructure). Also, when pipes burst, it ruins water pressure. Even homeowners who are doing their best to care for their pipes are having issues, so it’s no one’s fault.
  • People who dislike fracking and pipelines should just go build their own windmills for power. Okay, that is just dumb. The windmills didn’t freeze, anyway. Texas has a mix of power sources, which actually isn’t a bad idea…just no one could prepare for this stuff.
  • The President hasn’t come to save us. He’s a piece of sh**. Um, he cleared disaster funds days ago, when requested by the governor who’s the one who keeps bragging he don’t need no Federal dollars to help sick people. Meanwhile, Senator Cruz got on a plane and headed to a resort in Mexico. He can’t exactly fix things, but that still doesn’t make a great impression. I always enjoy it when the people who insult me for saying poor and/or homeless people can use some help and insist they pull themselves up by the bootstraps start blaming the government for not helping THEM whey THEY need it.
  • I’ll stop here. I do think blamers could better spend their time doing useful things.

The Bright-Siders

This is what I TRY to be, when I can. Like, right now puffed-up meadowlarks are flying around drinking water out of places where there is melting. And I have a lot of time to read and knit. Kathleen is the champion of not complaining ever, about anything. The power outage lets her use more candles, the ice formations in the field are pretty, etc. This is commendable, knowing what she’s actually dealing with and NOT sharing!

Who needs an icemaker, when you have this?

I see lots and lots of posts from people who are enjoying the birds and helping keep them alive with food and water. More than one has said watching birds has helped them get through the week in relatively good spirits. Thank you, Nature.

The Stoics

A lot of people are just muddling through. I guess that’s what you do when you truly don’t have any control over a situation and realize that complaining, blaming, or panicking isn’t going to change anything. They are conserving water and electricity (oops I am using it now), not endangering themselves on the road, and figuring out ways to eat and entertain themselves for another few days. They ask for help if needed, but try to be as self reliant as possible.

This seems like a good plan, to me.

And like Harvey, they find the warm spots and stay there (he found my heating pad and now loves me a lot more).

I’m gonna take care of animals, stay warm, and hope the satellite doesn’t go out again, so I can at least watch television. I have plenty of books and knitting, and the knitting keeps me warm. It’s my very first horrible natural disaster, so I’m learning things!

Stay safe, if your in the middle of this icepocalypse, and the rest of you be patient with people in this state. They just don’t have the infrastructure, and they have to live with the consequences of some interesting planning decisions.

Warming Trend?

Lee and I are laughing now, as we got all excited that tomorrow will be warmer. Of course, I’m perfectly warm with a dog and heating pad.

Carlton is never far from my lap.

It’s going to snow and sleet but not get so cold tonight and we’re ridiculously chipper about it. Maybe the heat can get it above 60 in the house!

Tomorrow looks sooo warm, right?

I admit to being a bit scared, which is why I keep writing. I feel like it’s a test, and we’re all doing okay on it, but not enjoying it. Now it’s all the water getting cut off. It just seems like the planners didn’t plan for this stuff very well, even though we know weather extremes are on the way. Sheesh.

At least Lee managed to get a few supplies today, most important of those being chocolate. I’ll be fine as I worry about friends and family, with a little chocolate!

Uh, I got plain Hershey’s.

Hoping my Austin friends keep calm and stay safe. I’ve already heard about enough frozen and burst pipes, fires, carbon monoxide stuff…eek. Well, I’m concerned about all of you and sending warm thoughts.

It’s gonna get better and, we will have learned lots and have many stories to tell!

Frigid-Pocalypse! The Cold!

I’m not apologizing to anyone tired of weather posts. All we have here is weather, and since we can’t go anywhere or do anything, it’s weather-post-a-rama here in the ice cube known as the middle of Texas. It’s cold as when I used to live in Illinois, only that it not at all normal here. No one remembers it being this cold. And last night’s blizzard of sleet and snow was something else. The good news is that the sun is out for the first time in days.

Blurry, since there’s no way I was going out to actually get this shot up close, but it WAS pretty this morning.
Here’s the farther-out view.

And we do have power, which is good. Many parts of the area are dealing with rolling blackouts or just plain outages. The less good thing is that our heating system can’t cope, so it was 45 degrees this morning in our bedroom. My office is the warmest place, and I found a heating pad. We sent the space heater over to Jim in the RV, who needs it way worse than we do!

Chickens, cows, and all are still there. The pond/tank froze for the first time!

Today’s snow isn’t as pretty as last time, because the wind blew it out of the trees, but I’ve been enjoying bird watching out the window. Cardinals always look spectacular against the snow, and the little sparrows are bopping around like crazy. The crows are cawing (celebrating all their wins, I guess), and the doves are flopping around grumpily. I saw at least one live chicken outside (I have NOT dared to walk around, since it is 8 degrees outside).

Sunrise through the screen. It’s cold.

I’m very thankful Ralph said he would check on the horses, since driving over there would be dangerous without four-wheel drive, even though it isn’t very far. Mandi slid down the hill going up to the cemetery yesterday, when she was attempting to go UP. So, we will not be leaving the house.

Frigid.

We managed to sleep fine last night with sufficient blankets and warm dogs. Carlton stayed under the blankets all night, but surprisingly enough, he and Penney went out and ran around and played for a while. They’re tough, but not like the cows. They just want their water trough de-iced!

Whee! Penney’s feet don’t want to touch the snow!
All the frolicking did not last long.

It has even snowed in Yorktown, where Kathleen and them are, a thing they don’t remember ever happening. Lee says his dad experienced it, but then, he lived through most of the 20th Century! Yorktown is not that far from the Gulf of Mexico, so that’s saying something. It’s a big weather day for Texas!

Luckily, I have lots to blog about and enough bird-watching and knitting to get me through the day, but my longest exercise streak died yesterday, what with all the sickness and the confinement to quarters.

From what I can tell, nothing’s been down our county road today.
Rather accurate depiction of me.

I only feel a little sickly today, so it looks like I’ve kicked the vaccine’s butt and my immune system is strong and vigorous. Hooray.

If you are in any of the many, many areas in the US hit by this awful weather, I hope you stay safe and warm. It’s bad all over, and much worse in the north. You are all in my thoughts.

Feel free to share your experiences or commiseration!

Bah. Sick.

As if it isn’t bad enough the heat can’t keep the house above 60 degrees, I’m not feeling well. Feverish and achy. Can’t stay awake.

To top it off, I managed to mess up my simple knitting project and had to undo 1800 stitches! Ugh!

At least I got the horses fed a LOT this morning. I’m wishing for helpers today! I think I can get some food to them. And tomorrow I assume I’ll have slept it off and will see how I cope with historic low temperatures.

Anyway, no interesting blog from me today. Sleet has started and it’s really icy. Fun times.

The Aftermath: Brr + Ow

Honest, I’m not a weather wimp. I recall only recently writing a post about how much I love to exercise in the snow. I do! It’s hard to exercise on ice, though, and that’s what we still have at the moment here in the middle of the Texas icefield (subject to change). Today was just not a great day for me to have to get out and deal with the cold and its consequences.

Carlton was not about to go out with me!

But, I am doing the needful, as they say in India, where it might be warmer right now, at least in some parts. The problem is that I am that lucky rare person to get ALL the vaccine side effects! Yippee! So, my arm feels like a dead weight and prefers to not be lifted, thanks. And I have had a raging headache since yesterday, plus I feel like I have the flu. This will all be temporary, but I sure didn’t want to venture out into 26-degree F weather this morning.

As Sara pointed out to me while she was texting my instructions, you have to be a responsible livestock owner. And right now I’m responsible not only for my livestock, but the cows over here and all the horses. Sara is stuck at her other house for a few more days, so I am happy to help. Luckily, Ralph is helping out with his cattle and is going to bring over a LOT of hay, which will make things easier.

I wish I had a picture of my horse feeding outfit. I was plenty warm, especially because I had a great combo of a ear-covering band, a hoodie, and my facemask to keep my head warm. My thick gloves worked great until they got wet from breaking up ice in water troughs, but I know all the livestock appreciated it. Kathleen’s cows were looking at me like, “Help!” this morning, even though they DO still have water in the arroyo.

The chicken water is totally frozen, but they also have other sources once they are out of their coop. I’m sure glad we built that small pond near the house!

Visual proof all horses have been moved.

When I got to the horses, my job was to move Spice and Lakota from the pasture they are in to the pen where Apache and Fiona are, so they will have more shelter and some hay. I was really glad when my fellow rancher arrived to help me open the frozen gates to the pen where the tiny calf had been (tiny calf was spotted yesterday romping through the icy field with his buddies!), which gives the horses more shelter AND Fiona a more accessible water trough. There was much banging (which totally annoyed Big Red, who was trying to eat her chicken scratch).

Those open gates were not easily accomplished. So grateful for the help!

Moving the horses went fine, and I was pleasantly shocked to find that Spice’s blanket was still on her. She’d somehow torn the back of it up, and completely broken off one of the straps. I managed to McGuyver up a way to keep it on, and by gosh, it was still on this morning! Yay! I also found one more blanket, which is good. If that one goes, there is a spare. There were none in Tractor Supply yesterday, and my friend Courtney said she bought the last one. (As an aside, her story of making their pony a blanket out of a fleece blanket, some plastic, and duct tape was pretty funny, at least to humans; the pony was not amused.)

Yep, it’s on, all right. Not shown is the makeshift attachment in the rear. She is able to poop, which is all that matters, I guess.

Spice and Lakota got all excited to be in a different place and ran around like crazy. I guess that will help keep them warm. Apache and Fiona were like, “Wow, this is a lot of hay,” and were chomping away when I left, which was hampered by the fact that the condensation on my glasses, which I’d had to remove, had actually frozen. Yep, it’s cold.

It’s only going to get colder! I’m really hoping we all keep power and heat! You may have to endure more snow pictures in the next few days. None of us remember it ever being so cold for so long here. I guess we will have to get used to it for the future. I know I plan to get a trough warmer when/if we get our horse barn here!

Got any cold-weather stories to share?

My Least-Favorite Weather Is…

…the weather going on right now at the ranch. Freezing rain is just the worst weather Mother Nature can come up with. It just wants to kill things.

Ice and water on the rain chain.

We were all under the impression that bad weather was coming in a few days, but surprise! Here it is! I am glad that all my animals have nice warm shelter (chickens in the garage and horses under their shelter, which is also where mama and baby calf are, to answer Catherine).

Some animals find the crunch ice fun, however, once the thunder stopped.

I’m also glad to be working from home.

Looks so pleasant, doesn’t it?

I spent 20 years in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. That particular area is often on the border between rain and snow, so I endured a lot of ice storms when I lived there. I have stories, including the time a colleague and I were stuck at the bottom of a dirt driveway on a hill and had to push my Gremlin (that was a type of car) up the hill, after my friends had slowly driven to us to help. We drove twenty miles at 15 miles per hour to get home, all covered in mud. We all had a good laugh, once it was over, but that was a truly scary drive!

Black willows by the pond, by Meghan, from her car.

Here, it’s just freezing raining really hard and has been for a few hours. That makes a nice coating of ice on…everything. It’s worse where I used to live just northwest of Austin, from accident reports and photos I’ve seen. The only thing stirring out here are the intrepid meadowlarks and Meghan, who had to have a meeting with Lee. The dogs would not leave while it was thunder-sleeting.

The gate entry keypad looks chilly. Photo by Meghan.

Well, I take it back. The birds are like, what the heck, we’re hungry, so we might as well eat. The bluebirds, phoebes, and mockingbird are all on the very cold fence looking for food. Mrs. Bluebird really looks sad. I wish my window didn’t have a screen!

That first bird is poor Mrs. Bluebird (the male bluebird and mockingbird are also there, but too blurry, thanks to my screen).
For about a half hour, the mockingbird chased the bluebirds off the fence. That rocket-like thing is a bluebird.

I’m glad we have plenty of hot cocoa and the ability to make chili, because we will need it! I’m feeling mighty bad for friends I know whose heating has gone out, and of course those of you north of us who are laughing about our complaints down here. My coworker in Minnesota got a good laugh about our whining this morning!

Well, it IS pretty.

I hope we don’t lose too many limbs or trees in this. If heavy snow starts, things will start falling. Oh well, that’s how it goes these days.

Our cold pond, photo by Meghan.

I went out and checked the rain gauge for Lee, and we had .71″ so far. I got a few more pretty photos, so please enjoy. The flowers look especially cool. You can click a photo to see it larger and not cropped.

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.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

The good news about a that we have hot and cold running water at the Pope Residence!

What’s wrong here?

Did you know there’s a convention about which faucet should be for hot water and which is for cold?

This one is right!

I was admiring the new faucet handles in the bathrooms and reveling in hot water coming out of the top faucet, when it dawned on me that hot was on the right. Chris asked if it wasn’t right. So I began doubting my memory. I looked it up!

I found the answer on this Mental Floss article.

In olden days, most sinks had a single pump for cold water on the right—to accommodate the right-handed majority. When dual-temperature faucets appeared, the cold water stayed on the right while hot water occupied the left. The Uniform Plumbing Code now requires that faucets “shall be connected to the water distribution system so that hot water corresponds to the left side of the fittings.”

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/67448/why-does-left-knob-control-hot-water-and-right-knob-control-cold

So, how about that? Tubby was already set up right. Good ole Tubby (who already needs another coat of paint).

That gold faucet’s gonna bug me. But it can’t be helped.

The break area sink doesn’t have labels. At this point I don’t care, because I’m so excited to be able to wash dishes with hot water!

Future home of clean dishes and masks.

Also in the break area, I finally remembered to get Chris my iron so he could attach edges to the counter tops.

I am pretty thrilled that my bathroom is done. We are going to add shelves to the right of the vanity, since it ended up off center. More storage for me!

See what I mean?

But with all the creativity we have around here, we can fix anything! By the way, here are some finished bathroom pictures!

Have a good weekend!

We Had a Little Spring. Now Chilly.

My friends the blue-eyed grass have returned.

Well, shoot, just when I was really getting into long walks and frolicking amid the wildflowers, a late cold front has driven me indoors. Yesterday, we hosted an event at 11 am at our office. The front showed up right as all the attendees were coming in or trying to find us. A big wind and brief rain surprised everyone, and blew away my meeting signs. March decided not to go out like a lamb after all!

We have a patch of pink evening primrose that is nearly white. It’s striking against the green grass.

But, I did get a lot of flower-viewing, pet walking, and iNaturalist uploading done before the front! It’s a great year for flowers, thanks to the winter rains, so I know I’ll be out finding more to share soon.

Yellow Flowers

The wild and crazy collard green in bloom.

Here’s something I’ve been grappling with lately. Many of the flowers that are blooming right now are yellow. They’re just beautiful, but when I try to photograph them, they are all washed out, making it hard to see details. Luckily, the collard greens I let go to seed (I ate off this ONE plant all winter) look pretty good. Perhaps the blue sky helped.

Poor little glowing flower.

But this ragwort, like many other yellow ones I’ve photographed, looks like a bright blur. I have tried adjusting the color on my phone, but no luck. Suggestions? Get a real camera! Yes, I know.

Just a giant dog, making ripples in the pond!

I’m looking forward to warmer weather soon. I know the dogs are, too. Alfred had a fine time yachting around in the pond on Friday, but I don’t think he’ll try today!

Take care, friends, and don’t forget to like, share, and comment!