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bear by san

March 2017



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always winter

Last night, the Minnesotan admitted it was cold.

I've only seen that happen a few times before. I've only heard him admit to being personally cold once--in Grand Marais, at 40 below zero plus a bit of windchill. Neither one of us wanted to be outside, and I'm a Yankee born and a Swede and Ukrainian bred, and a long-term pedestrian and bus rider. I usually sweater up and get on with my day, but that was ridiculous.

It's not that cold. It's not even (quite) as cold as it was at the beginning of the month. But it's sufficiently cold that when I was outside shoveling and taking care of my mom's dogs yesterday I could not afford exposed skin for even three minutes. (I pulled off my outer glove and used my phone in my glove liner, and my damned hand nearly froze. Likewise an ear, when my alpaca snood/cowl/ear-and-face-covering-tube slipped away from the edge of my hat.)

-14 when I got up this morning, counting windchill. Up to a balmy and tropical -9 now.

As you no doubt have heard, we've been having some rollicking weather in the U.S. It was sixty degrees last week, and -20ish with windchill the week before that. (In our barbaric Fahrenheits, yes. Some of us still can't get over the idea the Earth is round. At least we have thermometers.)  And I live in a house that's eleventy-four years old, and has some original windows. They've been retrofitted with storms, and we have a lot more insulation now, but due to the vagaries of old houses, there are some quirks. For example, my fridge is in the mudroom, which is uninsulated and unheated.

So we dress warm around the house. Witness and behold my styling January fashion ensemble:

Two layers of longjohns (wool and silk) (I guess we're supposed to call them "base layers" now?), an alpaca skirt, and a cashmere turtleneck. I have a rag wool cardigan for if I get chilly, and I debated a layer of polypro on top as well.

When I got downstairs, I added two layers of fingerless mitts and a beanie.

...and the thing is, you know, secretly I kind of enjoy winter. But I can enjoy it because I'm prepared, because I have this wardrobe (painstakingly assembled out of end of season sales and secondhand stores though much of it is.) I own a down coat that's basically a sleeping bag with sleeves, and I have more scarves than I know what to do with. (Bless knitters in the family.)

A lot of people don't have the resources to handle it. They may live in parts of the country where it never usually gets this cold. Or they may just not be able to afford warm clothing. Or heat.

And we're looking at this hard weather continuing for at least the next seven to ten days, and if that's the last of it this winter I will be surprised.

I guess the moral of the story is that it doesn't hurt, if you have to resources, to give to a coat drive or a food pantry or a heating subsidy charity, this time of year. To put out some high-calorie treats for the birds. (Seeds and suet, not bread, if you please.) To build a feral cat shelter.

It's never a bad time to be kind.


I am in...

...a relatively warmer place. It was only a few degrees below freezing when I got up this morning, in my heated house. I am prepared for winter. Yet, each winter, my schleroderma means that my hands crack open indoors. Down here in the mild Jawjuw winters. I'm not looking forward to tonight when it goes down to twenty degrees below freezing (in those primitive, now only in Amurrica, Fahrenheit degrees -- I'd love to know why Americans prefer German to Swedish degrees).
-6 F this morning here in da Chicago burbs. Not supposed to get above zero for another 3 hours.

I too am prepared for winter, with a heavy down coat and felted mittens that I can pick up blocks of dry ice with. I added a zip up sweatshirt under it, which keeps my neck and upper back much warmer despite the hood on my coat. I get weird looks as I go around bundled up but I'm not cold except where the scarf over my mouth ends and the hood begins.
I now live in the Deep South--in the foothills, true, but still, the Deep South. It is not supposed to get to sub-zero temperatures here. But it has, and will continue to. One of my roosters has serious frostbite on his comb and wattles (now blackened and getting ready to fall off). My goats and dogs spend their days burrowing into piles of straw, and my mule is coated in frost most mornings. The heater in my home (God bless the heater), isn't designed for this kind of weather. And although I have storm windows (which help), the house just isn't built for this weather. So I spend a lot of time with layers of blankets, and layers of clothes. And I chop a lot of ice and carry a lot of water. I'm afraid that this is the new normal, and so I'm trying to set up my home and livestock areas to cope with it.
Poor rooster.

Yeah, I think it's likely that this will happen again--if not every year, then more often than I used to. We dodged the weight of the last storm--most of the snow went south--but the cold that came behind it is here for a while.

I canna take it no more

If that Minnesotan don't reform, we're drummin him outta the league. After all, ittsa dry cold...
On the other hand, in California we haven't had a drop of rain since the pre-season sprinkle. Some days are cold by our standards, but it's clear, not even foggy, so drier than a summer, and many days are hotter also. The imminent threat to immediate life is not there but the long-term threat is real.

Just saying I can relate, even though our crisis is inside out from yours.
It's never a bad time to be kind.

That is a damn fine mantra, if you ask me.

Also, I admire your stylish winter fashions. I'm opting for long johns, giant dense wool turtleneck sweater of extreme cosiness, and high knitted socks under my jeans. Also am working from the living room in order to keep the fireplace stoked. <3

And since you reminded me, am going to refill bird feeder now.
When I had been out peering at the tires in -4 F, I said to T, "I must have acclimated this winter. I mean, it's cold, but it felt more like 10 than like -4 to me!" And he said, "Yeah." And then we just sat and thought about that a minute.

It is colder than -4 now.
Yeah. -11 didn't feel bad, really, until I took my glove off and my hand hurt like fuck and then went numb.

from friends of friends page

I lived in Minnesota once for 18 months (two winters). One winter it got down to 17 below. I seriously LOVED it. I loved being able to control my own comfort by adding or removing layers. I loved the snow. In retrospect, it would have been more fun had we had cellphones. I was a bit hesitant to wander far (like up to the cities - I was in Rochester) by myself for fear of car trouble with no way to get help. But, outside of that, and weather wise - it was heaven for me. I hated my one summer there so much that I never considered moving back but I do enjoy my winter memories.

Now I live in Seattle where we do not get snow but at least we have chill for all but about 3 months a year and I still enjoy a bit of layering (if only 1 or 2 instead of 5 or 6!). Last week, I met a woman visiting here from Dallas who spent the entire 2 hours we were together bitching about how cold it was. As she sat there in a nearly sleeveless top. The whole I bit in my tongue is nearly healed.

Re: from friends of friends page

Heh. I usually demonstrate the wonders of my wardrobe to people like that...

Of course, the last time I was in Texas I packed for Austin, and it was 20 degrees. At least I had a wool hoodie and a down vest.
What I like most about your outfit is the colors. The more clothes one wears, the more colors one can wear.

That said, I would like to have it known that if we here in the (not this winter) great Pacific Northwet could just have our rain back, you guys could have your normal winters back, too. It's amazing how all this correlates so neatly [wry g]. Every time we go into another dry spell this year (and so far we've had a dry October, November, December, and we're working on a dry January), you guys get walloped.
Amazing how that jet stream thing seems to do something important?
Guess who's flying into JFK next Wednesday? So I'll be arriving before the current chill leaves.

Yes, I have been buying thermal tops, lined/insulated trousers, and other stuff. Yes, I got a dose of -10 (celsius) with wind chill on top in Detroit last year, so I know my preparations won't be enough (I expect I may need to hit some clothes shops for serious cold-weather gear while I'm there). Even so ...
May I recommend:


Pretty much anything with the labels "Smartwool" or "Patagonia" is your friend. :-P

Is Feorag coming with you?
In all fairness to the Minnesotan, winters have been exceedingly mild for the past decade or so.

A few years ago a black tomcat decided that he lived in our garage, and I started feeding him. And then in December when it was -20, he decided that he needed to come inside. We're still trying to decide on a name for him...

Well played, tomcat.
I seriously covet your alpaca skirt.
Yes--it is a fabulous stripey skirt. And S took one look and asked "I want one, where did she get it?"

Six degrees F this morning in DC, and they are making sure everyone has the hypothermia hotline so we can crowdsource the task of getting people inside who are not usually inside.
I hear you on all of this. Though at the moment, I've been doing a lot of the "Sometimes, the last layer you need to wear is the house" version of dealing with the cold, and hiding indoors. (Ad- and disadvantage of being at home with a toddler. I am not going out when the weather report is "the windchill is making it feel like -40" nearly as much as I have.)

But when I do, amen on the layers outdoors. Alas, the husband was missing his fur hat for the worst of this last week. oops.
I take it, then, that your fridge is currently less a fridge and more a food-heater...?
I've got to get myself some fingerless gloves. (I knit, so no excuse). My husband and I have a pretty well-insulated modern-ish home, but we're also cheap, so we tend to keep the temperature on the low end. That's all well and good except if I have to work at a computer.
I want a pair of fingerless gloves--I have several mitts, but the gloves would be lovely. For outdoors too.