Monday, February 25, 2019

Wuthering Wind


(of weather) characterized by strong winds.

I woke suddenly in the small hours of Monday morning, wedged round with sleeping cats. I lay still in the darkness wondering groggily what seemed different.
The furnace gave a rattle and the little 'click' that announces the end of its cycle--and there was silence.
Silence, such as hadn't been in nearly 48 hours. 
Squinting across the room I made out the tiny red digits on the clock: 3:20 A.M.

I  floundered around in my nest of cats and blankets, pushed up the flimsy fabric window shade, propped myself on my elbows to gaze out at a star-sprinkled, dark velvet sky. The waning gibbous moon swung behind the arching bare branches of the trees that stand just beyond the camper trailer.
The branches were un-moving, there was no sound of wind.

The wind has been an intruding presence, dominating our days, and especially our nights.
Saturday evening a fury of wind ushered in lashings of rain, rumblings of thunder. The cats skittered about, nervous.  Bobby Mac hunkered in the cupboard under the TV shelf;  I flinched each time the trailer shuddered with the impact of a particularly violent gust of wind.
Jim tracked the storm on doplar; I pulled up photos and  accounts of local flooding, road closures, updates on the situation at nearby Wolf Creek Dam.

Jim loves the sound of rain on the roof, lulling him to peaceful slumber.
Sleep, for me, was impossible on Saturday night.
This was no gentle rain!  
Rain driven in wild downpour, pounding against the camper, while the wind howled. Twigs landed on the roof, scraping and scratching.
By Sunday morning the rain had ceased, but the sky, after a promising sunrise, cloaked itself in default grey.

The wind continued to moan, rattling sear leaves.

 I know the provenance of my dislike of a night time wind.
When my parents built their modest small house in 1949, my next younger sister and I were assigned to share the southeast bedroom. [Within a few years she moved to the southwest room at the head of the stairs.]
My narrow bed was placed with its head against the south wall, inches from a window that faced the road toward Grampa Mac's white farmhouse. 
The east wall provided a boundary for the length of the bed.

Daddy purchased our first television set in time to watch the inaugural parade that ushered in the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower. 
The blurry reception of the TV picture was dependent on an 'antenna,' a bristling structure of thin metal tubing with a long flat flex of cable which ran down the side of the house and through the wall to connect with the TV set which squatted in the corner of the dining room.

The TV antenna was fastened by a metal bracket to the exterior wall outside my bedroom window.
The metal contraption hummed. 
It was a low-pitched hum, a sort of monotonous thrumming .
The slightest suggestion of wind induced a full-throated whine.
On a windy night--and there were many--the whine modulated to moans, shrieks, a throbbing roar.
The loose flex slapped against the side of the house.
Switching my pillow to the other end of the bed gave no relief from the sounds that accompanied my restless nights.

I love the gentle winds that ripple a field of standing hay, the breeze that sets laundered sheets billowing on a wash line. 
I remember walking the track that traversed Grampa Mac's woodlot when a high wind sang through the tossing branches of maple and beech, wind that seemed never to touch the ground. 

Wyoming, where we lived for 12 years, is famous for its winds.
I felt assaulted by the wind there--wind that wuthered and howled around the corners of a house; wind that brought tumbleweeds [and neighbors' trash] surging across a landscape of sand and sagebrush.
It was a wind that skirled down from the mountains, sharp with the scent of snow. 

Today the sun has shone, the sky was blue, the wind at rest.
Tonight I walked outside, up the lane, in the clear windless cold, under a dark sky pricked with stars.  The waning moon had risen and rode low over the ridge.

Now at midnight, Jim is asleep; the cats are sprawled, sleeping--other than Bobby Mac who is out on the prowl.
I am about to slip into my warm nest.
I have raised the shades enough to let moonlight and starlight spill onto my pillow.
I may--or may not-- sleep well, but I can enjoy the peace of a night without wind.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Quotidian Round

Quotidian: ordinary or everyday; mundane.

Looking down the lane toward our 'encampment.' A rare morning of sunshine.

Somewhere in the past two weeks, I think we began to lose our sense of time.
One day has followed another--most of them grey and chilly--so that we pause and ask ourselves things like: 'Did Howard bring the doors last week--or was it the week before?'  'Didn't we refill the propane tanks last Friday?'

Howard was at home in Tennessee for nearly a week, so Jim spent the time putting up window trim and the wainscoat in the living area.
I applied polyurethane to both sides of all the knotty pine doors--a most frustrating task.
I dislike poly!  I'm a careful 'painter' but this stuff drips and runs, spatters off the brush. 
Jim insisted I buy the oil-based variety, which adds the insult of a nasty odor clinging to my clothes and hair. 
I applied the first coat with the doors in place, then next day lightly sanded preparatory to the second coat. 

Once I am embarked on a project I tend to ignore the warning signs that I should stop and rest.
The payback was considerable pain in my right shoulder, a stiff neck, vertigo.

I left the door project for a bit to paint some trim laid out on trestles--this was an easier job.
I mentioned that painting a horizontal object was less painfully aggravating than climbing and stretching, which prompted Jim to take the doors off their hinges and lay them across trestles.
The downside of this was a better view of the dripped poly.
More sanding, repeated efforts to view the work from every possible angle.
The finished doors were rehung yesterday and I was fairly satisfied until the morning sunlight caught a dribble of poly that I missed. 
I'm sure I will notice it each time I walk past that bedroom door!

Lumber to be sorted.
Last Thursday Jim decided to move firewood which has been stored at the Amish farm since our move.
J. A. who is the new owner of the lower farmhouse, offered to help with the wood.  It was a daylong project--three loads of firewood and a stack of lumber.
Both men were tired the next day! 

Dixie escorting me up the lane.

Pounding rain again on Wednesday.
Jim walked down for lunch using a cardboard box as headgear.
He couldn't resist pausing at the camper window and startling the cats.

Teasel is wary--a low warning rumble as she peers out at the alien creature.

A day without sunshine, but as Jim is now prone to say, 'At least its not raining--yet!'

Jim tackled the septic line which has been cleared by the county inspector to link into the existing septic tank.

He did much of the work with the backhoe, but hand-shoveled a layer of dirt over the PVC pipe to prevent crushing it with too heavy a bucket load of coarse soil.
Doing this on the day after moving the wood supply, he wasn't surprised that he was tired!

Rain last Friday night turned to wet snow.

The morning promised sun to melt the snow into muddy puddles.

Bobby Mac [aka Robert] keeping his feet dry while he surveys his kingdom.

We deal with delays and frustrations which aren't out of the ordinary for a project of this sort.
The electrician went 'down in his back' for a week, which meant that the electrical inspector's visit was postponed.
Electrician reappeared, finished his work, inspector didn't show up yesterday as re-scheduled.  He arrived today, inspected, left a certificate permitting permanent power to be turned on [when?] but said he had a list of things he wants the electrician to modify.
Electrician assures us this is the usual--inspectors must find something to justify their existence!

I am 'over' life in the camper.  I remind myself daily that it has served us well: it is roomy as such things go, it has a small but adequate shower stall, it has a laundry area.  We have phone and internet.
Still, I am most anxious to be in a proper house! 

The washer and dryer, stacked in their tiny cubby, are elderly and the washer has fits of refusing to go into the drain and spin cycles. I resort to the classic retaliation of pounding on the lid! 

The small table in one of the 'slide-out' sections is heaped with our winter coats, down vests and gloves. I can't imagine trying to eat while sitting there--the ceiling is lowered over it--a head banger.
Jim eats at the little desk, I pick my way to one of the easy chairs, or stand with my plate at the counter in the kitchenette.

A friend offered words of understanding. 'A camper is fun for a few days; you take in what you need for food and clothing, enjoy the outing, then return home, tidy up the camper--you don't continue to live in it for months.'

We wait now for whatever the electrician must do to satisfy the inspector.  We wait for the power company to come out and pull levers, flick switches--however electrical current is made to flow into the 'box.'
We wait for a dry day or two to finish laying out the septic line.
Jim and Howard have been busy fitting shelves for pantry and closets.
[They do not solicit my suggestions!]
We think the kitchen cabinetry may be ready for delivery next week, likewise the kitchen appliances.

We will be overjoyed to move into the main floor, while work continues to finish the lower level, build a carport. 
I've been told life-long that the things we wish for are most appreciated when there has been a waiting time. 
Has the wait been long enough?

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Default Mode is Rain

The view at noon Monday, taken through a camper window.

Trees, grey and bare, grey rain, tangled fallen branches, all a study in grey.

On Saturday morning I slipped out of bed at the importunate insistence of several cats who felt the call of the outdoors.
The first pale hints of morning were evident in the eastern sky as I raised the shade on the small window near my nest of blankets and pillows. It felt too early in the day to pull on yesterday's jeans and paint-stained sweatshirt; Jim was sleeping and likely wouldn't appreciate me rattling about.

On a whim, I made myself comfortable, fleece throws snuggled around my shoulders, pillows propped to give me a good view out the window. Teasel and Chester-cat, having more sense than to follow their friends into the pre-dawn chill, resettled themselves, substantial rounds of warm fur near my feet.
The skyline above the rise of the land that comprises our eastern boundary was a study in soft hues of dove grey, pearl, smokey white.
While I watched, thin stripes of pale saffron threaded through the shifting veils of grey.
Three large birds, cranes perhaps, or Canada geese, beat their way above the field, wings moving in steady silent strength, dark silhouettes back-lit by the deepening gold of dawn.

Wriggling free of my feline foot-warmers, I pulled on a bag-lady assortment of leggings, turtleneck  and wooly socks, topped with my long down-filled robe; I poked my feet into the handiest pair of shoes and picked up my camera.
Outside the morning air struck with a cold bite. The crunch of my shoes on frost covered gravel brought Willis-the-Cat to the half open door of the shed, mouth gaping in a pink yawn, but clearly willing to undertake his usual escort duties.
Huddled in my inadequate layers of clothing, I picked my way up the lane, far enough to record the promise of a day that might bring sunshine instead of monotonous rain.

The house in progress, looming amidst piles of displaced red earth, the skeletal shapes of staging and a  ladder propped near the front porch, even the white chunks of PVC lying about like the dismembered bones of some prehistoric giant, all faded in relation to the 'new every morning' grandeur of sunrise.