Weather, Propane, and Stuff

Sunny, Rain, Snow, Sunny, Rain, Snow. Warm, Cold, Warm, Cold. Melt, Freeze, Melt, Freeze.

Our weather has been up and down and very changeable throughout January. We’ve had such warm temperatures that the snow melted and the chickens even came out of their coop one day–for the first time since the snow began to fall at the beginning of winter. Then it changes back to cold again and everything re-freezes. Last Sunday night it rained, but by Monday morning the rain had turned to snow. Everything refroze and area schools were canceled. Even JJ’s college cancelled classes, which doesn’t happen very often. Deep snow can be dealt with but ice is another matter. We’ve gotten less snow this month since the Great Lakes have mostly frozen and no moisture can be picked up from them and dumped on us as lake effect snow. Today the skies are blue and the snow is melting again.

EJ checked our propane levels last Saturday, which he does faithfully, and we were at only 7% full. We have a geo-thermal system, which draws from the earth itself to warm or cool our house. Our heating system doesn’t use propane until temperatures drop below 20 degrees. We’ve had a lot of cold temperatures during the last month, so our propane was depleted more quickly.  I never had propane until we moved to this house and I don’t really like it because we have to worry about our usage. Also, the prices vary from one refilling to the next so I’m never sure exactly how much it’s going to cost, which means I don’t know how much to plan for. Last time it cost less to refill our tank then I thought and this time it was much more. I much prefer heating our house with gas–with a consistent monthly bill and no worries about running out.

Packages–and Hannah–in the Magic Box.

EJ called the propane company on Monday morning and the delivery truck arrive the next day to fill our tank. I was concerned that our driveway would be too icy for the truck to make it up the hill. I could imagine the propane truck sliding over the edge of the driveway and overturning into our little valley, spilling hundreds of gallons of propane. What an ecological mess that would be! I could also imagine the delivery guy taking one look at our steep slippery driveway and deciding not to attempt it. These concerns are not unfounded. USPS, UPS, FedEX, and other delivery people refuse to come up the driveway in the winter, which is why we have the Magic Box at the bottom of the driveway for them to put our packages in. What would we do if we ran out and the propane guy refused to drive up our hill? So I’m metaphorically biting my nails when our propane levels get low in the winter.

At the top of the hill, the propane truck turned into the place we keep cleared of snow so we can turn around, and as it turned, it began to slide a bit. Yikes! The truck spun its wheels. I began praying, “Please don’t slide, please don’t slide.” The truck stopped, the driver got out and sprayed something on the tires, and then he was able to pull in and back into place beside the tank to refill it. When the tank was filled, the truck lumbered back down the hill. I watched it go, hoping it would make it safely to the bottom. It did. Whew.

Wednesday afternoon I went to the hospital with JJ so he could get his blood work and an x-ray done in preparation for his appointment with his oncologist next week. JJ always gets very stressed when he has to have medical tests and appointments, but I thought he handled it very well this time. We all get a bit anxious as JJ’s oncology visit nears. We only breathe again when/if the results show that he is safe from cancer for another year.

I have put aside the dragon shawl I have been working on. I love the look of it, but I’m afraid that it will be too heavy for a shawl so I’m wondering if I should redesign it. My friend thinks it is beautiful and the heaviness will just make it wonderfully warm and cozy on a cold day. She might be right. I wished she lived close enough pick it up and tell me if it’s too heavy or just right.  While I consider it, I’m working on a swan shawl. I have looked at many, many patterns for both the dragon and swan shawls–and have even begun a few of them–but none of them end up being exactly what I have in mind. Some of them look good on paper, but the intricacies of the designs get lost in the yarn that I want to use. So I’m working on designing my own shawl and combining elements of several different stitches I’ve found. I know the “feel” that I want the shawl to have, but don’t yet have a clear design in my mind.

Hannah Joy playing with her ball on my lap.

It takes a lot of thought, effort, and trial and error to create a pattern. Years ago I designed some cool crocheted superhero dolls. It often took me hours and hours to create one small element–like fingers on a hand–that I saw in my mind. One (smallish) problem I’m running into is that when Hannah Joy wants something, she wants it NOW–whether it’s wanting outside, or to crawl in my lap, or to play. She doesn’t take “No” for an answer. She’s very much like a toddler. Earlier this week I was trying out an intricate pattern that required a lot of concentration and Hannah kept wanting attention of one sort or another, and wanting it NOW. I was constantly losing count of stitches or which row of the pattern I was on so I’d set aside my crocheting, interact with Hannah for a bit, and then recount or tear out rows and start over–only to have Hannah want attention again. As it was, when I finally had a few rows finished, I decided the pattern wouldn’t work and I discarded it.

Oh, well. I don’t have a deadline and I’ll figure it out eventually. I do love my animals. Although I did wonder if Snow White ever felt a wee bit of a longing for a moment or two without all those adorable birds and animals scampering about her?

Hannah is a joy, though, and she often makes me laugh. She has such an expressive face. When she wants something she makes her self look very small and pathetic–like a starving child with huge eyes–so it’s hard to deny her. And when she’s waiting for a me to do something–such as give her a command to eat or throw her the ball, her intense expectation is visible. Hannah is also very clever. She makes up and changes her own games. For example, she pretends to give me her ball but then grabs it back when I start to reach for it. And instead of merely chasing her ball when I throw it, she now tries to catch it in the air before it bounces. I think she’ll be a great frisbee-catching dog. Yesterday morning she went round and round chasing her tail–which she actually did catch.

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15 Comments on “Weather, Propane, and Stuff

  1. Thank you TJ you insight on life is most enjoyable, although I too would be praying for the propane guy, even down here they have their challenges. May JJ have a clean bill of health and we are praying for you all, love ya Linda

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  2. Winter has its worries, that’s for sure, but I am sure yours are doubled by virtue of where you live. We’ve likewise had the roller coaster effect since this Winter began and I am hearing the last two weeks of February are going to be another Arctic blast. I’m enjoying the balmy (if 50 is considered balmy) weather days just like your chickens. 🙂

    The box is a great idea and the crime sites for my area that I follow on Facebook, tell of people creating locked boxes for UPS and USPS to store their packages on their porches when people are not right there to retrieve them. We are falling victim to “porch pirates” and it was especially bad around the holidays.

    While Winter worries get you down, I hope there are no more worries for JJ at his upcoming appointment. There’s always some cause for consternation these days … most are not as worrisome as health concerns though.

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    • Most of the time I love winter because there is so much beauty, and the wild animals come to our feeders. (We have to put away the feeders in the warm months so we don’t attract bears.) Also, there are NO SPIDERS in the winter. But our driveway is a huge challenge in the winter, especially when it gets icy outside! Although it really is fun sledding down it. 🙂

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      • TJ – I took the bus for years when I worked in downtown Detroit and so my car stayed parked in the garage and I just walked down to the end of the street to catch the bus. So, my Winter driving skills are not so great. I am happy to now work from home and rarely go out in the car unless it is not icy or snowy. What a Winter weenie! It is beautiful though, especially when the snow has just fallen … very pretty.

        Wow to the bears – that would be scary, but I’d be just as terrified of a spider – hate them, and many of my posts mention big spiders or centipedes … I hate anything that runs faster than I do. A friend of mine hates spiders and gave me some peppermint spray last Fall … she got some at one of the Christmas Tree stores and sprayed it on the end of a long-handled duster and swore by it – no more centipedes or spiders. I tried it too, but I have wallpaper so I can’t get in all the corners or risk damaging the wallpaper. But I sprayed it liberally in the basement – I hate those ugly dark brown or black spiders – ugh!

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      • I can completely relate to your fear of spiders. I am scared of them too. I was born and raised and lived all my life in mid-Michigan. I always lived in a small town until 2015 when we moved to our 5 acres in Northern Michigan. When I first saw how huge the wolf spiders were up here, I was horrified. The small ones are the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen. The large one I’ve seen here is almost as big as a tarantula! I’ve seen black widow spiders here too. I keep a supply of bug killer spray ready all summer long in case I see a scary spider. I also spray peppermint in the windows.

        I’ve heard reports of bears up here–some not that far away–but I have never seen any. However, I’ve read that bird feeders can attract hungry bears, and once they find a food source, they will return to it. So I always make sure that I only put up my feeders in the winter when the bears are hibernating.

        Despite the challenges, I like winter for many reasons–including no spiders and no bears.

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      • Oh, those pics of wolf spiders just send shivers down my spine. I don’t like any of them. I keep my cellar way door closed all the time and have an old rug rolled up in front of the door so nothing comes upstairs. I am beside myself because we had those two or three really cold spells and I left all the kitchen cupboards open as they are against the outside wall to keep the pipes warm. I imagine creepy crawlies coming up the pipes and settling into boxes that are open in the cupboard like baggies or ziploc bags, etc., or running out across the kitchen floor. I just had a whole-house insulation job done last June. Among the things I was promised, was that they were using foam and also cellulose in some areas, and in the crawlspace where I never go into, they were blowing this cellulose which had not only a fire retardant in it, but it also repelled inspects. The salesman said I’d never see another insect ain my house again nd advised me to leave the crawlspace door open (I always left it closed and taped it up –
        scared of what might lurk in there, even mice??) I said “nope, can’t do that –
        can”t leave it open” even though he said it was packed solid.

        Come Fall, when the insects start trying to get in the house to find a warm place to land for the Winter, I started seeing a centipede a day when I went downstairs – I freaked out as I found them occasionally before … it is a finished basement, but one a day – OMG You should see what I do with my snow boots. I have them and any shoes I wear on a regular basis in Rubbermaid totes or plastic boxes with lids downstairs. No way do I want something crawling into footwear when I’m not wearing it. I’m not even impressed with the insulation job – it is still cold in here and cold walls, even though I caulked all around each of the windows and doors anticipating a cozy Winter.

        We are supposed to rain this morning – I’m going to peek out before I get dressed to go for a walk. It’s very windy out too, but with off-and-on rain all day, I’d rather walk in the wind, than in the rain. I’m an avid walker but can do without getting drenched … too many years of taking the bus and getting drenched while waiting on the bus spoiled it for me.

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      • I chuckled with total understanding about your spider-proofing measures. I always spray spider spray in my boots when I first put them at the beginning of winter and then shake them to make sure there are no spiders in them. I really hate spiders!

        We’ve had rain too….but now we are back to snow.

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      • That’s a good idea TJ … the spider spray … never thought of that, and I’ll remember that. I am paranoid something will crawl in there and I will not see it and it will bite me in the foot/feet. Years ago my father worked with a man who was bitten by a brown recluse spider as he carried firewood from outside to inside the house. He had severe nerve damage to his forearm and lost the use of his arm and a large chunk of flesh/skin. I was already pretty scared of spiders before that time, but even more so after that event. I have no joy in seeing spiders inside or outside either and here is a blog post I wrote a while ago about them outside. You’ll identify with it as you hate them too. https://lindaschaubblog.net/2013/08/02/webbing/

        We had such nice weather and I got out and did alot of walking then the surprise snow storm yesterday and more snow the end of the week. Now, I’m going to go suit up shortly to go out and shovel it. I shovel my neighbor’s snow all Winter and he cuts my lawn all Summer. The past two Winters it has been a “good deal” for me because his property is twice as big as mine and a triple-sized driveway … I have a very small house and driveway, but this Winter it has not been as good of a deal.

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      • There are some nasty spiders out there! I mean, I think they are all quite nasty, but some are nastier than others. I will check out your blog.

        I’m glad you were able to get some walking in! It sounds like you have a wonderful partnership with your neighbor!

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      • Yes, there are and I’m not too fond of centipedes either. But spiders seem scarier to me … their looks are menacing sometimes.

        I went on a nice long walk on Sunday. I had not walked much in January due to the ice, cold and snow. Last year I walked 1,050 miles and this year I had a slow start as I don’t like to walk when it is icy. Last week I got out five days in a row to walk at the park where I usually go. But someone told me that there were eagles at Dingell Park in Ecorse, so I went down there and saw a few eagles – I should have taken binoculars. I got a picture of one sitting on an ice floe, but there were professional photographers there with all their equipment on tripods taking pictures. One couple told me they saw 23 eagles one day last week. The eagles live on a small 22-acre island (Mud Island) close to this park, and when the ice is on the river, the eagles swoop down and sit on the ice floes and try to catch fish. I will go back there again, once this snow is gone and the roads are clear again. We got almost four inches of snow yesterday and when I was shoveling, underneath was all ice so there must have been freezing rain.

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