Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baby, it's COLD outside!

Right now, Weather Underground says it's 2.8 degrees F out there. Dang, that's cold. The house is pretty warm, thanks to the old wood furnace down in the basement. Behemoth it might be, but it continues to chug along consistently. Sure, it only has two settings: nuclear blast, and off... but there's heat in this house. My room is a bit chilly at 65F, but that's my own choice. I'd rather have it a bit chill than a bit hot, because it's easy to pile blankets on top of myself. Once you're naked, though, there isn't any cooler you can get without opening windows. With 2F weather, I don't think I want to open windows...

Tomorrow, we have many things that need doing. We have to get the snow off the roof of the trailer, as it's currently got a slow leak that's dripping inside, and we want that taken care of immediately. Once the snow is off, we'll put a plastic liner over it, just to be certain no further snow melts and dribbles inside. That should take care of that, although it might be a bit of a hassle figuring out how to get the plastic to cover the antenna and such. We'll figure it out, though.

The other thing I want to do, and I don't know if we'll get around to it, is go up to camp to get our ladder. We can't take any vehicles, because none of the ones we have will make it up there in two foot snow. It's pretty deep up there. I suspect Gray and I will be trudging up in our boots lined with plastic bags (for both warmth and dryness), fetching the ladder, and carrying it back down. It isn't a long hike, but even in good weather it can take a bit of energy. In this cold, with the amount of untouched snow we'll have to push our way through, I suspect it'll be a half day journey. That's okay, though. It's good exercise, it gets us out into the sunlight and fresh air, and it's just amazing the things you see out there.

Maybe I'll break out my snowshoes, and get Gray to help me jury rig them so they work well enough. If I can get them on right, I should be able to get up to camp much easier. I won't have to fight my way through the snow; instead I'll be able to go over it. It would mean I made the trip alone rather than with Gray, and my knees will be sore from the snowshoe waddle, but it might strip a couple of hours off of the trip. I guess we'll see.

There's more snow on the way, they say. Not much, only an inch or two, but still! I'm really enjoying the winter wonderland out there. Winter is finally here, and it's beautiful and silent and crisp and clean and clear. When you look up at the sky outside, you can see billions of stars. The moon and closer stars shine so brightly it lights up the night! You can hear more, too, because the snow causes sound to carry farther. Walking in the woods in the snow is much more silent than in the summer, but has its own particular sounds. I love the packed crunch sound when you walk on it, especially when there's no ambient sound around to drown it out.

I'm glad to be inside with my jasmine tea and my quilts and blankets. Now I'm going to turn out the light and snuggle deep down under the warm, heavy covers. I'm going to tuck a spare pillow over my head to help keep the heat in (by morning it'll be 55F or less in my room!), and I'm going to pull all the blankets around me to make a cozy nest. Then I'm going to go to sleep, happy as a rabbit in its burrow, deep underground.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I don't know why you say goodbye; I say hello.

That's Gray and me standing out in the winter wonderland up at his camp. It was just yesterday that sis took the pic of the two of us. We decided to hike up to camp, make some hot chocolate on the camp stove, then come down again, all with the twins tagging along. Gray took up his weight bearing vest**, and I wore my backpack and belt pouch with canteen. **Note from Gray: Load Bearing Equipment (FLC).  Aside, he feels out of shape and is starting the process of getting into shape by doing walks with extra weight.  His LBE carries a waist pack in the back with water filter, oatmeal, hot chocolate, water flavoring, tinder for lighting fires, a "blast match", and a couple of lighters.  He plans to add a stripped down MRE to it.  On the sides he has two canteens holding 1qt of water each.  One has a canteen cup and 15yards of paracord.  He plans to add water purification tablets as well.  On the right top is a pouch holding a GPS, and below that is a camp knife.  On the left side are two double 30 round magazine pouches which are currently empty.

It's a good thing I took up water and so did he, as the water jug we keep up there was frozen solid! Of course, I could have melted snow for our water, which there was plenty of. It was quicker to use the canteen water, though, and there was enough for us to make hot chocolate for five, plus enough left over of the hot water to wash the dishes afterward. You can't ask for much more than that.

The boytwin really enjoyed his hot chocolate. We took our time hiking up (sis has terrible bad feet and needs surgery on them this summer), and really worked up a sweat. It wasn't that cold, all things considered; just hovering around the freezing point. We sat around with jackets open and gloves off, enjoying the crisp and clean air and the total lack of noise up there. The kids had rosy cheeks and sopping wet mittens before we got half way up the hill, and though I was a bit out of breath, I feel like I made a good effort. I made it up without much problem, so different from three years ago when we arrived here.

There was much fun enjoyed during our outing. The children stopped dozens of times to make snow angels. The girltwin was in her element, as you can see here. That's a Tinkerbelle "barbie" doll in her right hand, who came along for the ride because she wanted to visit with the Nymphs that inhabit our stream up by camp. I'm so glad our children know that fairies are real.

Though I wasn't able to get a picture of it, we found an interesting and fascinating sight when we arrived at our footbridge yesterday. The water in the stream was flowing well, and we could hear it from a ways off as we walked up. When we arrived, we saw that the water was frozen solid, though. Yet, we could see it go in one end of the black pipe, and HEAR it coming out the other end. The mystery was solved when we realized that the ice had formed a pipe of its own! The stream water was actually flowing down the black culvert pipe, and out of that into a pipe of ice that had formed around itself. We were really stunned, having never seen that kind of ice formation before. How neat!

We are concerned that the land may not be ours by spring. Much is going on in our private lives that doesn't belong on a blog, but suffice it to say that the forces of darkness really don't want us to be on the land at all. We'll be doing all we can to stay, but at the moment I'm guessing there's just no way for us to keep it. In a way, yesterday's trip seemed almost like a leave-taking, even though if we do have to leave we'll need to go up and take down structures and tents and such. It hurts, thinking of all the work we've put into the land; the shrines I built, the small altar to the Nymphs, Gray's whole camp, the footbridge, the ditching to drain the swampy area, the logging we did to make some of the paths safer... hundreds of man-hours that look to be thrown away. Yes, it hurts. But... we move on. We'll fight as much as we can, and still be sensible about it. The land isn't more important than our family, after all.

And so we focus on the happy moments. After all, we have each other. No one can take that away unless we allow it. Property, jobs, money, these things are able to be removed, but love belongs to us alone. We're not giving up. And so... we say hello.