Early Winter Woes

Early winter woes indeed … the story continues where I left off from the snow storm last Thursday. Honestly (spoiler alert), none of what happened was earth-shaking in itself. This is mostly a cautionary tale of how wrong things can go when you procrastinate.

It also brought home to me very strongly that the older we get, the more vulnerable we can become – and the more important it is that we plan ahead.

I watched from the house as my husband struggled, with a crowbar, shovel and pots of boiling water, to wrestle the corner of the snow plow from the frozen ground.

It was past noon by this time, since the morning had been taken up with a trip to the tire shop to get our studded tires mounted. Of course, Jerry had first needed to shovel out the opening for the big barn door and then manhandle the four big truck tires into the bed of the truck.

Jer’s TBI thirteen years ago left him with a deep, driving need to prove he is still the capable man he was before his accident, and is determined not to accept help if he can avoid it. He especially doesn’t want a helping hand from me.

It hurts my heart, but I understand the conflict inside him and try to be supportive. My transition from being his wife and helpmate to his caregiver, then slowly back to being his wife (with some caregiving and guidance inevitably mixed in …) has been an ongoing, often challenging process for both of us.

This balancing act has only gotten more complicated as we’ve aged, since at 70+, we both need help a lot more than either of us did even just five years ago. Jerry has no problem helping me when I need it. He just won’t let me help him.

Anyway, an hour passed, and he eventually came inside, cold but [temporarily] triumphant. The plow was free from the frozen ground. Yay!

I convinced him to rest and warm up before heading back outside for the final step of actually connecting the plow to the truck. He assured me this would take no time at all and he’d be able to clear at least the main driveway before it got dark. Such optimism. It was, of course, still snowing.

As I alternated doing loads of laundry with sitting by the window and knitting, I watched him pull the truck up to the plow. Then I watched him walk back and forth from plow to truck cab – again and again. He’d kneel in the snow, mess with something, then move the truck a little. Repeat. Obviously, something was not going according to plan.

My anxiety level continued to rise as temperatures dropped and snow fell. Single digits were expected overnight. I hate feeling helpless.

The war with the plow continued well into the afternoon, with Jer slipping and sliding in ever deepening snow and fading light. I’m pretty sure this was when he fell and bruised a rib.

Jer finally made his way back through the snow to the house just before 4:30 pm, exhausted and defeated. The plow stubbornly maintained it’s independence from the truck, which meant no no snow removal for us.

I felt so bad for him. I know how hard he worked out there today. How badly he wanted to be successful.

On the other hand, I could not help but feel frustrated and yes, angry as well as stressed. The last thing Jer needed was a lecture, so I kept my thoughts to myself, but geez – if only he had done all of this weeks ago in warmer weather and on dry ground!

Once Jerry was out of his wet, half-frozen outerwear and had slumped onto his recliner, I sat down across from him. I didn’t want to wrest control from him, but something had to be done. I chose my words carefully, trying to use “we” whenever possible instead of “you”.

I told him firmly, but with as much compassion as I could muster, “Jer, you’ve done your best, but at this point, we need help. The driveway has to be cleared. It can’t wait any longer or we are going to be snowed in. Please get on the phone and make some calls. Do it now, before businesses close for the day.”

I mentioned possibilities; plow companies, friends, handyman businesses, our church, etc., but I didn’t tell him what to do. I went back upstairs, fingers crossed, and left it in his hands. 🙏

While Jerry figured out what to do next and made some calls (have you ever tried finding a plow service in the midst of a snowstorm?), I arranged for a back-up plan, hoping it wouldn’t be needed.

Twenty minutes later, Jerry told me he’d called a plow company and they’d be here first thing in the morning. He was pretty proud of himself and I didn’t blame him.

For the rather miraculous conclusion of this snowy tale, tune in tomorrow. Until then, keep smiling!

Procrastination Station

Life has been “interesting” around here this past week. The three days of snow, with accumulations of about 18”, would not be blog-worthy on its own, although it’s quite a lot of snow in one dump for this part of Alaska.

In spite of it being December and having had a couple of light snow events already, Jer had procrastinated. He had not hooked the plow up to the truck yet – even though that’s pretty much all we use it for these days and he’d talked about doing this three weeks ago.

No, that would have been fine, and we deal with worse most every winter. The misadventures started with a single lapse in preparedness – and snowballed (pardon the pun) from there.

If he HAD gone out to hook the plow up, he probably would have realized he’d neglected to switch out the regular all-season tires for the aggressively treaded, studded tires needed for snow removal on our fairly large property. The tires that were currently sitting in the barn under a tarp, waiting for October, when it’s legal to mount them. Sigh.

Jerry would have also noticed that the heavy Western plow, in spite of resting off-season on supportive bricks to avoid this very thing, had sunk, bricks and all, into the soft, spongy soil last summer’s weeks and weeks of unrelenting rain had created.

This would have been a fairly simple fix before the ground froze. But no; here we were on Wednesday morning, with 5-6” of snow on the frozen ground, more snow coming down, and the plow we so need is tilted slightly askew with one corner frozen solidly in the ground.

Winter … to be continued.

Thankfulness and Gratitude

Thanksgiving Day (in the United States) dawned here in Alaska with pinks and salmons in the east, promising sunny skies, at least for the morning.

Alpenglow lit the mountains to the north of our home, causing the snow to take on a rosy peach gleam above a mist-shrouded valley.

One of the aspects of winter I find I can truly appreciate and enjoy are the late sunrises, so I began my day with thanksgiving. And coffee.

Once I had coffee in hand, I dared to check the outside temperature. With the slight brightening of the new day, it was already easy to see the frost clinging tenaciously to every surface, so I wasn’t surprised to read 11F on the thermostat. Brrr!

Viewed from indoors, there was a fairyland quality to the dawn hour, tree limbs sparkling with crystals and the first brave little birds already darting to the bird feeders. I found myself humming one of the tunes from Disney’s “Enchanted” as I watched chickadees swoop and dance.

I caught the last half of the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, awed as usual by the Radio City Rockettes. Their precision never fails to amaze me as I think about how hard they work to achieve such perfection.

Sufficiently charged with caffeine, I managed 20 minutes on my stationary bike as Ronni and I watched the National Dog Show following the parade.

Being disappointed in the dog show’s choices of “Best in Show”, and having viewed more morning TV than I’d generally watch in a week, I turned the set off and settled in for a couple of hours of quiet spinning on my wheel.

Especially in the winter, I am grateful for my fiber-related hobbies. Between spinning, creating fiber batts on my drum-carder and knitting, I seldom find myself bored. I’m spinning up some brightly dyed pink yarn for one of my friends today. This should keep me awake until Thanksgiving dinner is served!

Little Miss Rhonda usually keeps me company while I work on my fiber projects, but today, she’s splitting her attention between me and the smell of turkey cooking downstairs. Yum!

She has ventured out onto the icy deck several times already today in search of the ever-elusive, dastardly squirrel.

I’ve adjusted one of her longer scent work leashes so she has exactly 12’ of freedom to scramble and chase, with me staying in the relative warmth of the partially closed sliding glass door – without risk of her squeezing under a deck rail and falling two stories down.

Ronni might consider it worth the risk if she could catch the squirrel mid-leap, but I assuredly do not. The longer leash seems a workable compromise.

I am more than grateful for our two ever-entertaining, loving little attention and heat-seeking missiles. Whether it’s a warm lap, a space heater or a bed by the wood stove, one always knows where to find a dachshund in the winter.

Well, it’s 4:00 pm, the sun is almost gone for the day and even I can now smell the turkey. Jerry must have just opened the oven door to baste the nice, juicy turkey breast he has baking.

So I’ll finish up by saying I am grateful today for a husband who enjoys putting together a holiday meal for the two of us (the dogs would say the four of us, but that’s mostly wishful thinking), even if it means watching his favorite TV shows at full volume.

Here’s hoping he’s willing to turn the volume down at dinner time. 😉 Meanwhile, I can barely hear it from fiber central (aka the bedroom).

Tomorrow, I’ll head to the Menard Center to walk off my Thanksgiving dinner – and be grateful for the ability to do that!

I’m lifting my glass of eggnog to you all right now, because on this special November day, I am thankful for each of you, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Soft and Dreamy

Ohhh … I’ve just started my next spin, and just had to share. It’s a 50/50 blend of hand-dyed alpaca and Tencel™ that I bought at a recent fiber arts retreat and although I’ve just begun, it’s spinning up like a cloud.

I love spinning alpaca, but have very little experience spinning Tencel. In fact, my one previous experience with it proved difficult and unsatisfactory. Believing the problem had been in the blending process, I decided to give it another chance.

This pure softness of this environmentally friendly, wood-based product intrigued me in spite of my doubts, so I’ll share what I found online (www.tencel.com) about this unusual fiber.

Quote: “TENCEL™ Modal fibers are known for being exquisitely soft and pleasant to the skin. Exhibiting high flexibility, TENCEL™ Modal fibers enhance textiles with a naturally soft quality. Offering endless design possibilities, TENCEL™ Modal fibers can be blended with other fibers to significantly improving the softness and comfort of fabrics.”

So, when I found this blended braid hanging in a vender’s booth at the retreat, the soft feel of it and the lovely colors spoke to me. I’m glad it did.

The royal purple and clear aqua will end up muted for the most part to icy blues and lavender by the amount of white in the blend, but I expect the full richness of both colors will pop up randomly to brighten the finished yarn.

This is going to be a purely enjoyable spin. I can hardly wait to be surprised by the end result. I love happy surprises.

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