Monday, December 22, 2008

A Few Things I've Learning Living In Pollock Pines... adendum

1. How to put chains on the car.

1(a). Remember to tighten the chains and apply the chain tensioner to keep the chains tight on the tires. Otherwise something happens called "throwing a chain", which causes all kinds of unhappiness, especially when the throw chain gets wrapped around the axle.

Luckily, the chain didn't get wrapped badly around the axle, and came off very easily when I laid down in the snow to get under the car and take the wrapped chain off.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Few Things I've Learned Living in Pollock Pines

1. How to put snow chains on the car.

For 28 years of driving, I've lived within 90 minutes of some of the best snow-play wonderlands in the entire world - the Sierra Nevada ski resorts and snow-parks. For 28 years of driving, I've avoided winter driving in the Sierra's unless the weather is pristine, and the roads absolutely clear, for fear of having a wreck or sliding into a snow drift.

Monday I learned to put chains on the car, and found out what an amazing difference it makes. Granted, you can't drive much more than about 25mph, but you can go almost anywhere on plowed roads, and my car, a Dodge Magnum, even makes it through 4-5 inches of fresh snow with the chains on. What an amazing invention, and what a shame I'd gone so long with out learning how to use them,

2. How to split wood.

I bought a cord of wood, pretty well split already, but not all of it small enough to fit into my little wood stove. My buddy Steve loaned me his axe. I've learned how to set a piece of wood on end and split it down the center with one strike. Splitting enough wood for 2 nights' fire takes maybe 10 minutes. Easy-peazy.

3. How to build a fire and stoke a wood stove.

The key? AIR. The fire has to get air. I cheat a little bit, in that I don't do kindling. I bought a bunch of fire starters (think miniature Duraflame logs) that go under the wood pile in the stove, and light the wood with ease. I leave the front door of the stove open just a 1/2 inch (there's a latch so it can't open any further), and the air rushes in and stokes up a hot fire in no time. Then the key is keeping the fire fed. After about an hour of hot burning, the flue is good and hot and draws the air in and up from the heat convection of the hot flue itself. Just before bed, I load the fire box about as full as I can get it, close the front door tight, close the air-intake down a little bit, and off to bed. The fire will keep hot for several hours, and the stove stays warm until morning.

4. How to shovel snow and use my electric snow-shovel.

Shoveling snow is a lot like shovelling anything else in the world, except the key is to keep up on the shovelling and don't let the snow melt or a day or two. Snow, when it's fresh, seems to be much lighter and fluffier than it is after a couple of days of melting and re-freezing. Shoveling snow when it's fresh is kinda like shoveling cotton. Let it sit for a day or two, and it's like solid ice.

Same goes for the electric snow-shovel. It will chew through about 4-5 inches of fresh powder with ease, tossing it 20 feet away. After 2 days? It'll go through the ice, but it takes a lot more elbow-grease to chip off the ice layers down near the ground.

5. How to weather-prep a house.

I'd never even heard of putting plastic over the windows to make an air seal between the window pane and the inside of the house. I've covered the windows. weather-sealed the doors, learned (or remembered) to roll up blankets and lay them at the bottom of the doors to cut down on drafts.

6. Use salt on the porch to keep down the ice.

Salt is amazing. Need I say more?

7. The weatherman isn't always right, so be prepared.

If the weatherman says it's gonna snow buckets tomorrow, it's as likely as not that what they predict will come true. Be prepared.

8. The weatherman sometimes IS right, and when they are, they usually forecast LOTS of snow.

Again... Be prepared.

Week One in the snow, done. Check.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

1st Snow is a Doooozy!

So.... Sunday night it snowed. Big. Lots. Well... is 8 inches a lot? Everyone around here seems to think so. Monday.... snowed.... more... a lot. Is another 6 inches a lot?
Tuesday.... beautiful day. No new snow so far. I've got about a foot of soft, fresh powder on the ground. Truly, so far, a Winter Wonderland.

But as I looked out the window on Monday morning, to see the fresh blanket of snow, my first thought was "how beautiful!". My second thought was "what in the heck have I done, moving up here?"
See, my city-boyness began to panic a little bit. My woodpile was under a foot of snow (safely beneath a tarp to keep dry, but still), my car was in a parking lot around the corner, literally buried in snow (how was I going to get to work??). My porch was a foot deep and there was just snow EVERYWHERE!!!
I was thinking I'd made a mistake moving up here.

However... after digging the car out, driving slowly back down the street toward my home, stopping and learning how to put chains on the car... suddenly the snow wasn't quite so scary. I went to Safeway just so I could drive and feel the freedom!

One of my big fears was driving in the snow. I have a Dodge Magnum after all, not exactly a back-country type of car. I scrape the bottom of my car going over small curbs. But with the chains on, she rolls across the snow and ice very nicely. Just gotta go slow and take it easy.

Today I was up early, shoveled off the porch (using my handy electric power-shovel), and split some wood for the day's fire. I took my laundry over to the laundromat, took Lindsey to get some lunch, and was home by 2:30 to start a fire in the stove and cozy up for the afternoon.

Not a bad weekend for the my first days living with snow. I've talked to a lot of locals, a few neighbors, and everyone has been very helpful. Mostly, everyone just says the snow is no big deal. You get used to it, and when it's snowing bad or storming, you just hunker down and wait for it blow over, dig out, and get back to life. "Keep the candles and flashlights handy, and keep the fire in the stove going, you'll be fine" they say.
I think they cat has the right idea. Curl up by the heater, and take a nap.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Camie on TV!

Camie was on TV, talking about the snow today.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

.......Aaaaaaaaaaaaand It Starts.....

The snow has begun......
No one mentioned how cold it gets..... Ok, they did, but can I just tell you again.... it's cold!

To add to my adventures today.... I blew a fuse in the circuit box this morning. Four o'clock in the morning, just as I was stepping INTO the shower. Yeah, so, I had to get dressed (shaving cream still on my face), go outside, unscrew the fuse (yeah, fuses, not circuit breakers), screw in the new one (which luckily for me was sitting on the inside of the fuse box) and get myself back inside. Oh... while holding the umbrella (it was rain/snowing) and trying not to fall on the already slick and icy front deck.

Goooooooooood Morning!

Well, the snow has slowed for now. Actually have a blue sky overhead (for the moment). House is warm with a crackling fire in the stove.

Gonna take Camie and go through the drive-thru Nativity at the church next door a little later. You know, we've had all this nice weather, nights staying in the upper 40's and 50's, and what happens when the poor folks schedule the Nativity Scene? The first day of snow, naturally!

Day one in "The Snow"..... check.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gettin' Ready For Snow

Well, it's finally here. Snow is forecast for this weekend. Some of the forecasts differ, but all agree - snow for the next week. Could be as much as 8-10 inches, but I doubt that. I expect maybe 4-5 inches but.... mother nature will dump what she wants.

See the current forecast here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Cheer

Well, it's officially the Christmas season. Decorations (such as they are) went up at the house today. I put up my little decorations around the house, and lit the gingerbread-vanilla candles.

Still no snow (as the new header photos shows) but the weather is finally starting to turn just a little colder. It's 4:45pm as I write this, and it's only 40 degrees outside. The weather forecast expects lows in the 20's this weekend.

I took a drive yesterday up Forebay Road a ways, down to what I think is one of the many forks of the American River that run through the Sierra's. Along the way some deer ran across my path, so I stopped for a photo or two.

The road wound around many miles of switchbacks till it reached the bottom of the canyon and a bridge that crossed the river. There was a SMUD power station fed by a large penstock running down the canyon wall above it. As I crossed the bridge I noticed a phenomenon I'd often read about but never, ever actually seen.

You know those signs they have on bridges that say, "Caution, bridge may be icy"? Well.... this was the first time I'd ever seen an icy bridge. The ambient temperature was about 45 degrees, but the bridge, directly over the river, had a very slippery layer of ice and frost on it. It was one of those things I'd heard of, but never actually seen for myself.

Ya, I've lived a sheltered life.

Anyway.... Merry Early Christmas, and may your season be filled with Joy, and a recognition of Who is the real Reason for the Season.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Lindsey Shout-Out

Camie and I went to see her sister Lindsey perform with Comedy Sportz Sacramento last Saturday night. I have to admit, I'm very proud of Lindsey, and terribly enjoy going to these shows.

If you've never heard of (I hadn't before Lindsey got involved) or been to a Comedy Sportz show, I highly recommend it. Family friendly fun in the style of "Who's Line is it Anyway", guaranteed to keep you smiling the entire time.