Tag Archives: cold weather

The Bane of My Existence

25 Sep

Ants!  I hate ants! I feel about ants the way The Squire feels about spiders!

Every time it rains, we get ants in our bathroom. Not just one or two, but great hoards of them, to the point that it looks as if somebody spilled coffee grounds on the counter.  We had a cold snap this week (When it’s been in the upper 80s and low 90s, 62 is a cold snap.) and it’s raining to boot, so they are everywhere. One the counter, in the sink, on the floor, on the toilet seat, for the love of Mike!

These are supposed to be wild critters, at home in the woods and wilderness. There’s no  place to get dry and warm in the wild.  Just be brave out there and buck up. But noooo!

We obviously have the wimpiest ants in the state.

 

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When Hell Freezes Over

3 Sep

One of the blogs I follow is Domestic Felicity  http://ccostello.blogspot.com/ written by a lovely lady who lives in Israel. Her most recent posting was about the irregular water supply in the town where they live.  There are times when the municipal water stops working – sometimes for a few hours, and other times for an entire day. Since there is NO rainfall in Israel from May to October, people have to find ways to cope, from cisterns to catch rain when it does fall, to collecting dew from awnings. She describes using the baby’s bathwater to mop the floor, and then to flush the toilet.  And, of course, keeping a supply of bottled water on hand at all times.

I remember a lot of the verses to that song.

On January 19, 1969, Baltimore had the coldest day since they began keeping records. When I came down in the morning, what came out of the kitchen spigot resembled coffee. I ran it long enough to actually fill the coffee pot, and then discovered there was no more water in the pipe. Fortunately, we had a hand pump just outside the bathroom door, and I was able to draw a saucepan full from the tank and bring it to a boil, which I then used to prime the pump.  I filled two large pots and poured them into the bathtub to come to room temperature during the day (ground water is cold), and then two more buckets which I sat on the back of the stove. I put the breakfast dishes in a roasting pan; the handles just fit over the rim of the sink, so I could move it easily.

Just to make the day more interesting, when I got ready to leave for work, my car wouldn’t go into reverse. I had to get the Late and Unlamented out of bed to help me push my car into a position that I could drift it down onto the road. To add insult to injury, as he was getting dressed, he bent over to tie his shoes and his trousers ripped up the back. He stomped around for a while, and then grumbled that he “would be glad when things got back to normal around here”.

I didn’t bother to point out that this was probably as “normal” as they were ever apt to be.

And so this was the way we lived until mid-March. Morning and evening, I primed the pump with boiling water.  I put water in the bathtub in the morning, plus more on the stove. In the evening each adult got one bucket of hot water in the tub; the first person got clean, but the second one had a hot bath. The girls, to their grave delight, used an old metal wash tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. I would fill the roasting pan with water and heat it on the stove until it was warm enough to do the dishes. Washing our hair was a joint effort. Elder daughter would lean over the tub and I would pour warm water over her head. Once she’d lathered up, I’d pour more water to rinse her off. Then she would help me do my hair, and one or the other of us would help the younger daughter with her shampoo.

After over two month of promises that he would repair the pump, the Late & Unlamented finally went into the cellar, and hauled the thing into the daylight. It turned out the pump had frozen solid, and there was nothing but an empty casing with a few loose screws in the bottom.  What I had gotten out of the spigot that first morning had been the innards of the pump; the expanding ice had simply reduced the thing to rusty bits.

We could have had running water in two days, instead of two months. But then, he wasn’t the one priming the pump.

Frozen!

29 Jan

The Squire discovered this morning that the pipe between the well and the house had frozen. Cute.  Luckily, he had a pretty good idea where the problem was located, but fixing it was going to be tricky.

Two years ago, we had to have some work done which really needed a professional  – digging up a six foot length of pipe, three feet down and replacing it. When the crew came inside they informed me that our PVC pipe did not meet code, and set in to replace a good bit of it with copper. (I think if The Squire had been home, he would have stood his ground, but I’m a wimp.) Two problems; one is our water is so acidic that it has already eaten through the copper pipes and been replaced with PVC, and two, they way they rigged up the pipes I couldn’t open the cupboard where I keep my cleaning supplies. (Not that this is a big problem, since I seldom use them, but it’s the principle of the thing.)

Anyway, to get to the point here, they had also replaced the plastic elbow outside the house, where the pipe goes through the wall, with a brass fitting, which was where the “freeze” was.  This connection is encased in a little concrete bunker with a wooden lid.  The Squire called every hardware store in the tri-state area, looking for heat tape, but we were obviously not the only people with frozen pipes.  Finally, in desperation, he defied all the laws of good sense and ran a heavy duty extension cord out the living room window and put an electric heater inside the bunker.

Fortunately, brass heats up almost as fast as it freezes, and within fifteen minutes we were back in business.

Baby, It’s C-c-c-cold Outside!

7 Jan

Woke up this morning to temps of 5-F, and a wind chill of 11 below. Nippy. Yesterday morning it was warm enough that I actually managed to take Blazer for a walk, but this morning I tied  him out and he was quick about it. The water in the kitchen is frozen, which happens at least once each winter. The Squire and I have discussed wrapping the pipe in heating tape – many times – and this morning his reason was there is no place to plug in the tape. I tapped the front of the dishwasher. “This runs on electricity? Where is it plugged in?”  Obviously, the dishwasher needs both water and electricity to run.

Heavy sigh. I know he hates the thought of pulling out the machine and all that jazz, but one heating tape isn’t going to pull the power two – two – electric heaters use to thaw out pipes. And his wife isn’t happy about taking the dishpan into the bathroom to wash the dishes, while we’re discussing this subject.

Ah, well. At least we do have power and heat, which is more than some folks have at the moment.

The Squire and I had tickets to the Maryland Science Center; we were determined to see the Mummy exhibit before it leaves on the 20th, so we bundled up and headed downtown. Parking was a minor problem. They have some parking close to the building, but it turned out to be all for employees. The fellow at the parking lot named several places we could park, but most of them were too far for The Squire to walk. We ended up simply parking almost directly across the street, which was free with his handicapped tag. Even walking from the car to the building, I had to put my gloved hands over my cheeks to keep the wind from burning them.

We spent a LOT of time in the mummy exhibit. There was a sign stating that each of these mummies had once been a living person, with family and friends, and the entire exhibit was to be treated with dignity and respect. A nice touch, I thought, and I noticed several parents/docents/teachers reminding their boisterous charges to keep it to a dull roar.

There are lots of interactive computer displays – CT scans showing the bones and teeth and inside the skull, analysis of the smallest bits of skin or bones could tell what sort of diet the person ate, and so forth. All the ways scientists can examine the body, almost without ever touching it, other than to move it from one spot to another. Several Egyptian mummies – those people mummified everything, from people to cats to small crocodiles. Three people from one family (Polish, I think) who all died of tuberculosis – mother, year old son, and father. The tuberculosis bacillus remains in the bodies (virtually an entire village had been wiped out in this case) forever, and these older strains are being tested to see if doctors can come up with a cure for what is now a virtually drug-resistant illness.

Quite a few bodies from South America, some of which posed real questions. One woman was curled up on her side, with a small child resting against her stomach and another child under her head. Mother and her children? Scientists say the three bodies cover a period of over 200 years. Another woman had been buried sitting up, crossed legged, with her arms wrapped around her waist. Unfortunately, the poor thing had fallen over backwards sometime after she was placed in the tomb, which left her in a very awkward position, but the real surprise was when they X-rayed her, they found she was holding a baby tooth in each hand. They will not retrieve the teeth, but are they her own? Teeth from her own children? Nobody will ever know.

Probably the saddest was a very primitive mummy from Peru. It was a toddler; the inner organs had been removed and the cavity filled with dry grasses, and then a clay face was formed over the skull. It was found in an ancient (1,000 BCE) hut. Perhaps some family had wanted to keep their little one with them, even after it had died?

We also spent some time in the dinosaur exhibit, contemplating the bones and footprints. There were samples of rocks containing fossils, but even with little red arrows pointing them out, I could not see them. Guess that wouldn’t have been a good career choice. There were several stations where you could watch and listen to scientists discuss various aspects of their work. One fellow moved his head around so much that when the camera was trained on him I had to put my hand over the screen. I mean, being animated when you speak is one thing, but this guy was a bobble-head!