clarentine: (cavalier)
Nine degrees this morning - rising to ten just before I left for work. Yay. :-/

Brrrrrr

Feb. 15th, 2015 08:31 am
clarentine: (cavalier)
Well, I now have empirical proof that you can, indeed, freeze your hair. :-) No damage done, though it was very weird to wonder what was poking my scalp as I turned my head and realize it was my hair. Fortunately, the wood stove was already fired up for the morning, so I stood there in my coat for a couple of minutes until it thawed.

There's a most hellacious wind howling through the trees right now. The thermometer says something like 10 degrees, taking into account that it's up alongside the house and thus reading slightly higher than it would without that shelter. The weatherbeings have been warning that, with the wind chill, the outside temps are down into negative territory. I am always grateful we invested in the wood stove, but never more on a morning like this. The stupid heat pump that came with the house would never have kept up.

So, we're tucked up inside the house, dogs, cats, and people. The chickens are huddled in their coop, having come out only long enough to eat the scraps and scratch I put out for them when I was out freezing my hair. We filled the wood boxes yesterday morning before the weather blew in and it began to snow - sideways - so we are in no danger even if the power should go out (which it has not, despite the wind, and thank you very much Rappahannock Electric Cooperative). The weather report has this misery continuing until some time Monday, when the next front comes through and supposedly brings us snow before dropping the bottom out again. Argh.

I wanted to come to Virginia because I genuinely like having a full four seasons. I don't mind the cold, so much, if I can get out of it into real warmth, like we have in this house. Right now, however, I think I have had enough cold for one year.

Brrrrrrr.
clarentine: (cavalier)
Oh, my god, what a glorious day - what a beautiful weekend - this has turned out to be. Clouds gave way to sunshine and a warm, southerly breeze yesterday about midday, and today is an incredible 70 degrees! I changed out the bedding in the chicken house in my shirtsleeves. I helped stack up the next bunch of logs to be split, and then took Kay down into the garden and stood around in the sun while she explored where the rabbits have been hiding out. Days like this don't come along all that often in February; I'm glad these two happened on a weekend so I could make use of them.

Arthur

Jul. 4th, 2014 08:08 am
clarentine: (cavalier)
This is my favorite part of a hurricane: the morning after a rough night, with strong cool breezes rushing through the treetops like surf. Windows open to catch the fresh air. Everyone smiling as the hurricane's potential transmutes into could-have-been. We were too far away from this one to be dealing with any real aftermath, but I'll take this bit.
clarentine: (cavalier)
It feels like this whole winter has been a huge blur of cold, wet, snow, and more wet. Can't get into the garden to plant early spring stuff because it's too cold and wet. Severe cold (three nights of temperatures at 4 degrees F!) killed off almost all the kale and collards I had planted with the expectation of harvesting for the chickens over the winter and early this spring. Snow collapsed the low tunnels I'd erected over my winter greens-for-people beds not once, but twice, tearing holes in the cover. The wet killed off a lot of the winter lettuce and all of the beets. We have burned through so much wood keeping the house warm; it's a good thing we had extra stockpiled.

I rescued the low tunnels by laying plastic netting - the kind I use over the sweet potatoes to keep the deer off - over the hoops, then putting the second layer of frost blanket over top of the netting. Thus far, that's worked; where the frost blanket tore more, or tore in different places, the second layer seems to have stayed intact, and the netting kept further snows' weight from tearing more holes between the hoops.

I'm harvesting greens from the tunnels now and have replanted the tatsoi, which has already bolted, and the beets, and have reseeded the chicken kale and collards in the exposed beds. It's been so cold in the past couple of weeks, though, that I'm seeing no growth at all from the seeds.

Supposedly next week (well, beginning today, really, with yet another rain event) the weather's expected to give us temperatures more like what we should be seeing at this time of year - lows in the 40s, highs in the mid 60s. Maybe next weekend - barring more damned rain! - I might finally get to till the beds to remove the mole tunnels riddling them, and then I can get a late start on spring-plated things. Maybe.
clarentine: (cavalier)
The past two weeks around my house have been a magnified version of the spring and summer over all: Rain. Rain. Rain. Thunder, then rain some more. Weed! Weed! Rain. Rain. Thunder. Weed!

Last night I came in from the garden at 9PM covered in wet, spattered dirt flecks and sweat. I'd had onions that needed to be harvested and then hung up in bunches to dry and a million opportunistic weeds to yank and turn into mulch (roots up, you buggers!) This was the fourth night of six that I've come in like that, with a break of two days because it was just too hot one evening and monsooning on another.

This morning, and all of last night so far as I can recall, having woken to lightning and rain at some point, it's monsooning again. We are officially having the wettest summer on record here in central Virginia (not that I needed the official record to tell me that). Here it is nearly the middle of July, with all the vegetables in our massive garden bursting at the seams in their rush to produce, and I have watered with the hose a grand total of one day: right after the sweet potato slips went into the ground. That's it.

I know that weather doesn't equal climate...but wettest summer ever on record. I wonder if the climate change deniers are enjoying their summer?
clarentine: (Default)
You know that Chinese curse about living in interesting times? Well, I just want to know who cursed me. Really, I could take being bored for a week or two. It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all.

(Don't worry; there is no imminent major crisis, just an avalanche of smaller ones. I'm buried.)

***

I hope everyone has been paying mindful attention to the lengthening daylight. We are less than a month past Midwinter, the shortest day of the year, and already the increase in day length is noticeable. It's not quite pitch black when I arrive home after work. I'll take some small reassurance from that, especially when it's as cold as it has been lately.

The chickens are responding to the increase in different ways. I'm getting a steady five eggs a day, six some days. And one of the hens has decided to go broody. Silly bird. No rooster means no chicks. I've been pushing her off the nest, making her go feed and water herself. I suppose that, if I ever did want to hatch out chicks, I now know which hen would volunteer.

***

Thanks to the nose-to-the-grindstone habit required to meet [livejournal.com profile] novel_in_90's daily 750-word quota, I've made really significant progress in the novel going under the working title of Switchback. Better, I'm hitting all the marks the three-act structure would tell you need to be in place: first turning point came at 125 pages, and the midpoint finally wrapped up at page 278. (That was one massive scene, and boy, was it the setpiece the books all talk about.) My drafty outline is standing firm--and no one is more surprised about that than me. I am so very much not an outlining kind of writer.

I guess we'll wait and see where the second turning point comes, but I'm cautiously optimistic.
clarentine: (Default)
At (very) long last, I have wrapped edits on Tocara. It’s been an extremely long slog through this rewriting pass, working in suggestions made by several very helpful critters and working around two household relocations, selling one house, and buying another. If I haven’t screwed it up, I think it is a pretty good story.

We will see if La Agent thinks so, too. >:-) (She probably thinks I’ve fallen off the face of the planet. Sorry for the awful delay, Shana.)

One of the hardest things for me has always been striking a balance between boring the reader with too much detail and frustrating the reader with too little. I am trying very hard to move my pointer on that spectrum a bit closer to the “more detail” end of things. An early editing draft bore the moniker “Obvious!” as a reminder that what is transparent to me is opaque to others. Here’s hoping I’ve managed at least an incremental improvement.

***

What’s the story about, you say? It’s a secret history about the magic, and power, of belief. It’s set in Spanish Colonial Florida and Havana, and involves a stolen bell, and hostile Indians, and empire-building Spanish dons.

I should probably work up a good logline now that it looks like I might get to use it.

Best yet, from this point forward I get to spend time with the next novel without feeling guilty!

***

At the farm, there are no eggs yet. No worries; four months of age (18 weeks) is the low end of when hens usually begin to lay. I have seen indications that the hens have been investigating the nesting boxes. They’re all roosting at night now, which is good, as the overnight temperatures have begun to drop. Some day soon, there will be eggs.

There are some consolations. The pole beans have begun to fruit – after being blown over, restaked, staked again, staked again.... The weather after the hurricane blew through (hi, Irene; bye, Irene) was gorgeous and cool, so I went out that Sunday afternoon and turned and smoothed out enough of one of the empty garden rows to get some of the fall seeds in. I’m trying a couple of different kinds of radishes and some Harrier beets. I got some collards and Laciniato kale in, too.

The meadow portion of the long field in the back is gorgeous with black-eyed susans and ox-eye daisy and redtop meadow grass. The sumacs and the black gums have begun to show a hint of the scarlet color they’ll develop as September heads toward October and the cool evenings turn cold. Somewhere in there, we’ll run the bushhog over the meadow one final time for the year and neaten everything up for the winter.

We’ll be harvesting sweet potatoes inside of a month. Can’t wait to see what we end up with – we know the soil in this former forested field was not the richest it might have been, so I will be satisfied if we get a decent three or four potatoes from each of the vines, but I am hoping for enough to share (and sell – the microfarming venture has nearly recouped enough in sales to have paid for the plants we bought at the outset).

Plans are being made to bring in a big truckload of sifted topsoil, the good stuff, and a couple more pickup truck loads of horse manure to be sheet composted over the winter and turned under again in the spring, together with the straw that will be protecting it all from the weather.

I’m already salivating over plans for next year. >:-)

***

The earthquakes have not stopped. I thought for a couple of days they’d slacked off – and then we got hit with another whopper, 3.4, enough that the beagle hightailed it down from my son’s bed and into ours and Kay, my dog, all but crawled into the shower with me. I am so very fed up with random shaking. My nerves jangle for an entire day after one of those.

Enough!
clarentine: (Default)
Okay, this is just ridiculous. More snow, looking like someone reversed us back a couple of days. The trees that were clear of snow are bowed down again. Gusty winds. Schools scrambling to close. Household members frustrated.

When I let the dogs out at 2:30 this morning (sigh), it was still rain.

When I went to walk Kay at 5:45 this morning, it had finally turned to teeny snowflakes. The branches of the mock orange shrub outside the back door were coated in a thin layer of ice that had not been there at 2:30.

When I looked outside at 7 this morning just as I was finishing my breakfast and having to get ready to go catch the bus into the city, the flakes were huge and clotting everything. Probably three-quarters of an inch had already accumulated.

I made the executive decision not to try and go out, and now (a little after 8) it's looking like I made the right call, though it troubles me not to be dependable and show up for work regardless. One of my backups is in and will handle the mail and case management that's the backbone of a law office. I'm just gonna sit here and watch the snow blow around through my workroom window.

Oh, and play doggie doorman. Kay wants back outside to catch more squirrels. *g*

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