I found myself reluctant to get out of my toasty warm bed this morning, much less actually DO anything. One glance at the outside thermometer showed the temperature was -24F at my house. Sure, Fairbanks is lots colder, but really, I didn’t care about anyplace except right here. Ack.
Rhonda was curled tightly against my side under the covers. I knew Jerry had taken her outside for a morning potty break an hour earlier – her cold toes digging her way back under the covers upon her return were ample proof, but right then, we were both very comfy.
I finally sat up in bed, pulling the blankets with me since it’s always colder upstairs in our house. Downstairs is cozy, with wood heat supplementing the furnace nicely, even at -20F. But our upstairs heating system has never really been sufficient in super cold weather. Most of the winter is just fine, with plenty of heat coming up the wide staircase to the upstairs rooms. Even in the current cold temps, it’s OK for sleeping since Jer and I both prefer cooler air at night anyway, but for anything else, the upstairs is uncomfortably chilly in severe cold weather. I was wearing a sweatshirt, warm bed-socks and fingerless mitts to knit in bed last night. ☹ It felt apt that I was knitting yet another pair of fingerless mitts.
Jerry, bless him, had brought up my insulated Starbuck’s mug full of hot, aromatic coffee at about 8:00 am (a wonderful habit he got into many, many years ago and one I appreciate immensely, especially in winter), so I immediately reached for the warmth of hot coffee. Rhonda didn’t budge from her warm spot.
I glanced out the bedroom window as I sipped eye-opening coffee. Yep, everything was still white with hoar-frost. Every single branch and twig sparkled in the early morning light. It’s a gorgeous sight and one I generally appreciate for the unique contrast with the bright winter-blue sky. But 4-5 days in a row? OK, enough already. By now, it’s more irritating than unique.
Staying in bed for the day wasn’t an option, so I wandered downstairs a while later for more coffee and the comfort of the woodstove. I was just in time for the dogs to need to go outside again. Oh joy. Boy, on days like this I really miss not having a fenced yard I can simply turn them out into! But nope. We can allow Baxter and Abby to go out and do their business and just keep an eye on them from the door (window), but little miss Ronni needs to be kept on leash. Even in this weather there are mice, voles and other tiny critters and she wants to go FIND them. Chasing after her at -24F was not part of my plan this morning, so we both bundled up and ventured out to the “potty palace” on the front porch.
Yes, I said “potty palace”. Silly name, but it sure comes in handy. The red shade in the photo is only partly the plush red winter coat Ronni is wearing. The rest is due to a red heat lamp clipped firmly over the pen. It was simple to put together and makes a huge difference for our short haired dachshunds during extreme weather like this. Being comfortable pottying outside makes for no accidents inside. Win/win!
We set up an X-pen in the far corner of our front porch, added a tarp to contain birch sawdust and clipped a heat lamp to a 2×4 frame at one end. The dogs trot out the front door, take a sharp turn and pop into the pen. Baxter’s no wuss and will usually still accompany Abby out into the yard as long as the snow isn’t too deep (Jer usually keeps it pretty well plowed or shoveled), but today even he ran for the protected corner. The term “potty palace” is a hold-over from many years ago when we first came up with the idea to help our tiny 7 lb. Miniature Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, Pocket, cope with similar cold weather. Nearly 20 years ago, we dubbed it “Pocket’s Potty Palace” and the name stuck. 😊
I’ve been glad for my long down-filled coat and fur-trimmed hood this whole week and was glad the dogs were quick this morning. Once back in the house, I determined to keep myself busy INDOORS for as much of the day as possible. By early afternoon, although the trees outside showed no indication of changing from their stark, frozen white silhouettes, our temps were all the way up to -13F. Yay, I guess.
Well, it’s 8:00 pm now and it looks like -13F was our “high” for the day. It’s back down to about -19F again now, so I’m making cocoa and am heading back to bed. I have knitting to do. One warm wool fingerless mitt (hey, we need to be able to text, right?) is finished today, one to go.