Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Viola! It's a winter storm to remember

One for the record books. And then some. It's the kind of weather that “builds character”. And ruins political careers. Or severely challenges them anyway.

Just some of the things I learned over the past 36 hours;

Winter storms have names, just like hurricanes.

We're experiencing two of them – back to back. Uri and Viola

Sometimes dumb luck is just not gonna go your way for long.

I managed to avoid losing my power (so far anyway), and I've diligently kept water running in the kitchen and bathroom to keep the pipes from freezing. 

However, the kitchen sink drain decided to freeze – so, in order to keep the pipe from freezing, and the floor from flooding, I have to scoop out the water every 2 or so hours and either find a container for it, bring it outside for the chickens, or pour it down the tub or commode.

I learned just how to manage to keep a steady enough stream outside for the horse trough AND the dogs/sheep and back chicken menagerie; which is great because it means I don't have to haul buckets of water from the house – or the pond. And I managed to bruise a rib last week doing some fence work, so that was a welcome thing!

Guineas are instinctive, but they are not very good at weather predictions. 

Up high in a tree might be good in the summer with leaf cover to catch a breeze, but not at all good on a night with predicted temps of 0 and -12 wind-chills. I'm still not sure if they all made it. Some came to the barn today when I shook their food bucket, while others may have had feet frozen to the branches they were sitting on for all I know. Thankfully, tonight, I managed to coax most of them into the barn to sleep. We'll see if they figure out how to get out in the AM or if they'll wait on me for breakfast.

Minnie, one of the shop cats, learned, that it's a LOT warmer in the shop with her housemates than wherever she disappeared to last night. 

She was present and accounted for in plenty of time for supper and did not leave or even try to sneak out this time.

I also learned that I do not have a standard kitchen faucet, apparently. 

After 3 days of scooping water out of my sink, every two hours, I remembered that there is an attachment for filling the waterbed that you can use for the kitchen sink that connects to a hose. I could drain from the sink, to the tub! Well, I've not ever used it in this house – and I remembered why. I don't have a standard faucet. 

But after rummaging through every imaginable box of misc parts of this and that, many leftover from my brother and father – both had been plumbers – and out to the irrigation box of various adapters; I needed to go to Home Depot.

I learned that I remembered how to drive on snow! 

It's been about 30 years since I've seen this much for so long – and actually needed to venture out into it. I did find the part I needed.

No matter how hard I try, I'll never figure out why someone would run a washing machine water line to an unheated, albeit enclosed, porch without a water shut off valve INSIDE the house – you know, where there's heat, so you can drain the line in the part of the pipe where there isn't.

 So, when I got home from the HD, so excited that I'd finally outwitted Mr. Freeze the Drain Line; I found water all over the kitchen floor - I'd not been gone two hours - but wait, it wasn't the sink overflowing – indeed, that pipe in the uninsulated floor board "box" (a custom job, I'm sure), had burst.

I was reminded that it's a very good habit to ALWAYS put the water meter key back in the same place. One of the rare things I can say that I'm good at doing that with. And I hightailed it out to the front yard to shut off the water.

Guess I don't have to empty the sink out anymore.

I also learned how cranky I get when I only get to sleep in 2 hour increments for 3 nights straight. 

Sorry to anyone I've snapped at recently. Sleep deprevation is real.

I also learned, and not from my late father or my brother, did I mention they were plumbers? - they make this magical tape that has a wire running through it that you can wrap pipes in these vulnerable places – and plug it in and it KEEPS THE PIPES WARM! 

Now, why wouldn't either of them mention this wonderful invention to me? I'll be shopping for this contraption soon. Right after I sweat a coupling on the copper pipe that burst, behind the custom floor board that hides it.

I learned that people are warmer and friendlier during a crazy storm like this. 

Lots of "excuse me's", and head nodding, and even help reaching some windshield fluid that me and another woman needed. She boosted me up by the leg as I climbed the shelf to reach for us, two gallons. Teamwork! We're all in this mess together. We may as well help each other as much as we can, when we can.

I'm sure I have or will, learn more before Viola is done with us and our normal 50, 60 and 70 degree winter days return, next week.

 Learning is never a bad thing, I suppose, even when it's under extreme conditions. Just repeat that over and over.

But boy howdie, tonight, I have EARNED this dinner.

And I ate it.

EVERY bite, and 2 chocolate chip cookies for desert.

And I'm going to go to bed, just as soon as this blog uploads.

And I'm going sleep all night and through Viola's arrival, although I think she's knocking on the door, I heard sleet earlier. 

But, with no need to dump any water out of the sink tonight, I can hopefully get a full night's rest. 

Which is good because tomorrow, I have to to go outside and use a shovel to break the ice in the water troughs that will no longer be thawed with running water. When I come sleet to stinging on my face with her, I may not greet Viola with a smile, but I'll just keep reminding myself that it won't last much longer and I probably won't ever have to endure this again. Not if I can help it. Once every 30 years down here they say. Hopefully, I'll be digging my toes in the sand somewhere other than my pasture by then.

Oh well. At least I have a latrine, and lots of extra water!

I'm not so sure pioneer living is what I bargained for when I moved here. But I've managed to endure more than my share of winter experiences in this old farmhouse on Pioneer Rd. and lived, to tell.

When ever I finally do really retire, it will be someplace devoid of winter storm names, the need for gas heat, and it will have modern indoor plumbing – no fancy heated tape needed to keep it flowing. I can do solar power, but I like my indoor plumbing and temperate climate – inside especially.

I hope Uri and Viola weren't too hard on any of you. I know many have had it much worse, especially considering they don't live in this old, drafty farmhouse with crazy, pre-code plumbing.

The Texas power grid has dodged federal regulations for long enough I'd say. It's time they brought it up to snuff and took a bite out of that bottom line for a change. But then we know that won't happen, we'll all get the bill, I'm sure. Looks like I'll need to plant some more tomatoes to sell – even if the ones I've been babysitting, along with tons of other flats of baby seedlings, do survive. It's gonna be an expensive experience for a lot of us. Hang in there!

Try to stay warm folks. And remember, this is winter every year, where I grew up. It's not fit for man nor beast, but so many people continue to endure it annually. I don't know why! 


Marie Eat Your Food - Naturally!

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