Another Wintry Tale

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is CHILLY. You might guess that word will bring some frosty responses from those of us in northern climes.

This has been a chilly week for us. On Sunday we here in SK recorded the lowest temperature on the planet. A nice conversation piece to share as we huddle around the fireplace. 🙂

Monday morning was seriously cold, school buses didn’t run so rural schools were closed. In the afternoon the wind came up. I had a meeting to go to and stopped at the mail boxes on my way home. Exposed to the bitter wind, I believe the warning the weather man often gives: “Exposed flesh can freeze in one minute.” Coming from the cooks’ + management meeting at the Villa, I wasn’t dressed for -40!

Someone asked how we dress for this cold weather. Bundled up warmly, with gloves, fuzzy scarves around our noses and foreheads, and thickly lined coats and boots. People who must be outdoors much may wear balaclavas to keep their faces from freezing. But vehicles have improved very much over the years, with heating vents and wires through the glass. You must have a block heater if you live in this country and plug your car in on nights this cold. Below -30 your chances of starting a vehicle without one are pretty slim.

That NW wind carried on all night and most of Tuesday, blowing snow across the north south highway and stranding vehicles in ditches. Blowing in from the fields NW of us, snow filled in our driveway with hard-packed knee- to waist-deep drifts. Looking out into the garden I estimated the snow peaks at 1.5 m or 60″ and an average depth of a metre/40″ all across. I see the “whatever” is still snuggled under the garage with its breathing hole open.

Someone said we don’t have much runoff this year because the dry sandy land will soak in all the melting snow, but our yard will have extra, I’m sure. Our son-in-law came with his big loader Tuesday evening, blasted through those packed drifts in our driveway, and built us a snow hill higher than our garage, to the west of it. Now we have our own toboggan run! The highest drifts he cut through in our driveway were a metre deep. (Just measured. 🙂 )

Wednesday morning the power flicked off as I was working on the computer; it went off about 7:45 am and was out until 10:05. When it’s -35 or -36 you want power, heat, and water. (The electric pump won’t deliver water when the power’s off.) Bob lit the wood stove, which is a smokey old thing, but heats the living room to keep us from freezing. Though we weren’t in any danger for that short a time and the power company were on the ball with getting it fixed again.

The temp yesterday, Thursday, was -38C with a wind chill of -50. Schools have been closed all week. It’s been sunny, though, so we’re not dreary sitting indoors. Good skating weather for hardy souls, I suppose. And today we’re glad the thermometer has climbed to a high of -23C, so a warmer day but still on the chilly side.

Our little Tuffy made a trip to the vet today, to have some of his male aggressiveness removed. Sadly, it’s necessary to neuter even such an attractive cat, who’d give such lovely kittens, but it must be done if we want to have him in the house and peaceful. He’s got a plastic cone around his head now to keep him from licking his incision; he’s not very happy about it, but making the best of the situation with his electronic toy mouse to amuse him.

I haven’t posted much this week, wanting to share brilliant, inspiring thoughts, but not knowing how to start. I’d like to organize and condense the ideas generated from reading several articles earlier last weekend. I prefer to write upbeat things, but my heart has been heavy as I’ve read about the different Christian and political perspectives in the US. I think a lot of people, even internationally, are bewildered and/or fearful where this is all heading.

We have a “Made in USA” calendar that tells me it’s Abraham Lincoln’s birthday today. I guess he could tell us a few things about political discord. The US has survived a lot already, but when I hear about extreme elements, radically right and radically left, fired up and ready to ignite a civil war at the neighbours’, I am troubled.

Mainly I wish with all my heart that the Gospel according to Jesus Christ could be shared in its purity. I’m sure our Father in Heaven grieves over the multiplicity of confusing, contradicting, and all supposedly Christian, theologies people have come up with. I think we’re all agreed on that — but who’s ready to toss out all the embellishments and dig right down to the foundation laid by Jesus and the apostles?

Something for a future post. Keep safe and warm everyone.

At Twelve per Hour

Yesterday my husband and I started doing a jigsaw puzzle, one given to us sometime in the past six months by I forget who. This is a Cobble Hill puzzle, one brand we always enjoy doing, where every puzzle piece is a different shape. Looking at their site, I see they have some really beautiful puzzles listed. 🙂

With each piece being a unique shape, the putting-together should be easy-peasy, right? Nope. Not this one, because it’s such a collage of vines and leaves, fruits and butterflies. In fact it’s call Fruits & Flutterbies.

Pretty? Yes. Easy? No. Click Here if you want to see the picture we’re trying to put together.

My hubby worked at it for an hour before dinner and put in twelve pieces. Then he calculated: 1000 pieces at 12 per hour, with each of us putting in a couple of hours every day, should take us clear through til spring. Somewhat like retyping WAR & PEACE.

However, with the outside temp hovering around -30 C we may as well occupy ourselves with something appealing indoors. It’s a sunny day and with sunbeams making all the snowbanks glisten, a person could almost go snow-blind. I imagine this country when settlers first came, not a tree or anything to break the view for twenty miles. And then sunshine on snowy fields!

One early arrival, coming from Wales, commented that “Back home I always like to face the road ahead so I could see what was coming up. But when I’m travelling here on the flat prairie it doesn’t matter what direction I face because the view’s the same whichever way you look.”

The Dark Creatures

Dark, Fluffy, and Very Playful

We seem to be dealing with our share of unique black creatures these days. Two weeks ago we found this black-and-white fluffy stray kitten on our doorstep. Bob had him to the vet on Saturday and he got his first shots. Lori, the vet, said Tuffy’s the most uniquely colored kitten she’s ever seen – and all the girls at the clinic thought he was adorable. 🙂 Lori’s never seen a cat with two-toned fur like his before. Tuffy’s back and leg fur is made up of black and white strands intermixxed, which gives him that hoar-frosted look. And his mostly-white ruff is so long it’s almost a cape around his neck.

The Odd Bird in the Flock

I have mentioned different times that we’re putting out bird seed and feeding a flock of sparrows that hang around – mostly in our Caraganas or in the woods on the east side of our trailer. A few different times I’ve noticed a rather large sparrow in the flock and one day I realized it wasn’t a sparrow at all. Not with a long tail like that. A closer look revealed that it was a red-wing blackbird. I don’t know why this bird decided to pass the winter hanging out with a flock of sparrows here on the chilly prairie. Was he injured or too weak to fly south with his own kin?

I’ve been keeping an eye out for him this week and today, using my binoculars, I was able to get a good look at this misfit. I have never in my life seen a blackbird quite like this one. He’s black for the most part, a black beak, too. But his upper back is kind of mottled or streaked with grey – which blackbirds never are. He has the curved wing markings of a red-wing, but they are white, or light grey. Perhaps this is the red-wing’s winter coloring, but we never see them in winter, so how can we know?

He hangs out with the stubby little English sparrows most of the time but appears to consider himself above them because he shoos them off if they get too much in his way. And he never comes to the feeder pole – at least I’ve never seen him at the feeder or on the ground below. Maybe when the weather gets colder he will? My first thought was that he won’t last; surely a blackbird can’t survive our winters. However, if the sparrows can survive, why shouldn’t he, too? Time will tell.

My Gobbling Google

I’ve had some issues with my cell phone lately – the G-mail has been gobbling up my plan’s bytes like teen boys at an eat-all-you-can buffet — and we can’t figure out why. One thing I have tried: I changed my settings and cancelled notifications so I’m not getting so many incoming e-mails with photos from other bloggers. I can rather check my Reader for new posts. I’ll see if this will make any difference this month. So if you’re inclined to post a lot of photos and you aren’t hearing as much from me, it’s because I’m not getting all your notifications right now.

One last thought — but quite important: I’d like to give a warm welcome to all my new followers. I’m not sure where everyone is finding my blog, but I see the numbers going up. 🙂 You’re all welcome to browse in the archives, read and comment on posts.

Wishing everyone a “Happy Hump Day” – as another blogger calls Wednesday, since it’s the middle of the week.

Snow – Lampman Verse

Sorting through a few of my Dropbox files this evening. Hope you enjoy this verse:

Snow

By Canadian poet Archibald Lampman

White are the far-off plains, and white
The fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height,
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree,
Falls down scarce audibly.

The road before me smooths and fills
Apace, and all about
The fences dwindle, and the hills
Are blotted slowly out;
The naked trees loom spectrally
Into the dim white sky.

The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snow-fall hoods me round;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence everywhere.

Save when at lonely intervals
Some farmer’s sleigh, urged on,
With rustling runners and sharp bells,
Swings by me and is gone;
Or from the empty waste I hear
A sound remote and clear;

The barking of a dog, or call
To cattle, sharply pealed,
Borne echoing from some wayside stall
Or barnyard far a-field;
Then all is silent, and the snow
Falls, settling soft and slow.

The evening deepens, and the gray
Folds closer earth and sky;
The world seems shrouded far away;
Its noises sleep, and I,
As secret as yon buried stream,
Plod dumbly on, and dream.

A Pixabay Image