Prepare

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“Ruben” the retriever is prepared

This post isn’t me complaining, it’s a couple tips on how we do it, and an awareness reminder.

We’re just creeping out of a week long cold spell. What do we call cold, -30 Celsius or more (-22 Fahrenheit).

The other morning we woke to -41 Celsius, add the wind chill and it felt like -51. No need for a conversion here because at -32 Celsius and Fahrenheit equal out.

Here in Alberta, Canada, we often get teased that these temperatures are common. That is untrue, but this kind of cold is also not unheard of. We do get at least 1 real cold spell a winter, and they can be worse than this one. They can last hours, but usually days or the odd time weeks. They can bring more snow or not. They can come quickly, or like this recent one, give us days of warning to prepare.

I feel bad and worry about people who have to be out in freezing temperatures, going to work, working in, doing chores, going to school, or whatever forces someone outdoors. But, if prepared and dressed appropriately it is doable.

Country living certainly meant more preparing and was more work than here at the lake, and retirement has made these cold or even blizzard days less worrisome for sure.

It seems, we often end up with doctor appointments or something though, this week there was 2 which had us on the highways in the frigate temperatures.

Winter road travel means preparation beyond the obvious vehicle maintenance which is so important.

As soon as our snow comes to stay we start traveling with warm gloves, hats, snow pants, boots, a blanket, and there’s a fold-up shovel which stays in the van. For those who take less traveled routes, a more extensive emergency kit is suggested. Heat sources like thermal blankets, candles, and nutritional snacks for example.

A downfall of living and experiencing this type of weather, year after year, is we can get careless and somewhat disrespectful of cold temperatures. All to often you here it said, I’m just running to the store quick, I don’t need my big winter gear.

This rare but true short story is a reminder of why we should be prepared. It happened to a girlfriend’s sons friend, so I didn’t stumble across it on the internet.

He was alone driving a not busy highway during a winter blizzard when a series of unexpected things changed his plans. His little white car left the road stopping far into the snow filled ditch. In its resting place it was unseeable by the rare passing traffic. He wasn’t injured, but he wasn’t out of trouble yet either. The seat belt release mechanism was somehow damaged trapping him in his seat. There was no knife or sharp object handy to cut the now binding nylon strap. Yes, he had a cell phone. It had been on the centre console and durning the jarring off-road ride it slid off landing out of reach on the passenger floor. It was hours and hours before he was found, and by then frostbite had set in to some extremities. Last I heard, he hadn’t lost any, but recovery was painful and not short.

What habits have I picked up since hearing about this unfortunate fellow.

  • I keep that bulky winter-coat on while in a vehicle, especially on bad roads.
  • The phone is either in my pocket or at least in a cup holder.
  • A multi tool with a knife is within reach.
  • Let someone know if you’re going to be on the road, especially in bad conditions and if traveling alone, and let them know when you arrive at your destination.

It’s better to prepare than be sorry.

Of course you can’t be overcome with worrying about the what if’s, or prepare for every scenario, but do think over some possible things that could go wrong wherever you might be and take precautions.

On a lighter note, here’s a few tips if you’re inexperienced and find yourself in some extreme cold weather.

  • If you think you have to pee and you’re going outside, pee. Cold air intensives this urge.
  • If you’re going out to say, shovel, and you can see without your metal frame glasses leave them inside. Metal draws in the cold.
  • Oh, and if someone tells you to stick your tongue on cold metal, it’s not a myth it will stick and stick good.

Our favourite vehicle option for cold days is a heated steering wheel. Lots of people enjoy heated seats, but I find they make me colder when I have to go back outside.

When winter comes I know what’s in-store, and I choose to live here. You’ll hear me say I love winter, but that doesn’t mean you won’t hear me mutter now and then when we’re in a cold spell.

So to anyone who has to contend with a cold weather season. Bundle up in layers, travel prepared, and just maybe you’ll be warm and safe.

Are you a warm weather person, or do you like the 4 seasons of change?

Hello Bud, and Spring Travel

bud

Do you know how to tell when an Albertan believes it’s really spring?

When they’re going for a drive and they don’t throw big snow boots, winter jackets, gloves and a hat in the back seat. Smiley Face.

That’s Mister and I, anyway. We even keep snow-pants and a blanket in the van during the winter months.

Unlike most people, I will miss winter. Not the extremely cold days, but the freshness of a winter walk and the relaxation that comes with the season. It’s a great time for catching up on visiting or inside crafts and hobbies.

For those waiting for summer, it’s no longer wishful thinking that spring is approaching, the signs are popping up everywhere. Flowers and tree buds are sprouting, the geese have returned from down south, and the Jackrabbits are changing back from white to brown in color.

Neither geese nor rabbits would show themselves on Sunday so I could take their picture for this post.

spring flower

Even surrounded with snow and ice there is signs of life in the flowerbeds.

Mother nature can’t make up her mind though, and last week’s weather was like rolling dice. Something different showed up each time you looked outside.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were prime examples.

By noon Wednesday the temperature warmed enough that a light shirt and vest was efficient not just inside but when outside.

Born and raised in Alberta and setting out on a road-trip though, my winter coat and snow boots joined an overnight bag in the van. A duffle which contained three layer options of clothing for Thursday’s planned shopping day with my girlfriend.

For two hours, I drove North on dry roads for a night at the daughter’s. The glorious sunshine heated the van interior enough I had to put the air conditioner on from time to time.

Keeping up with weather forecasts is a must at this time of the year, so we checked it after supper. They predicted an overnight cooling with possible precipitation. No big deal, we’re use to that.

I joined the daughter when she set out to do evening chores. She fed and blanketed, “Nugget” her horse. With access to shelters and with him more content outside, he doesn’t spend nights in the barn. The temperature wasn’t expected to drop enough to warrant a quilted blanket but since he had already shed most of his winter hair she put a rain-sheet on him.

Early Thursday morning we woke to about one and a half inches of fresh, wet snow. It continued lightly falling while we drank our coffee, but the weatherman said it should clear by the afternoon so us girls decided to still go shopping. We picked up my girlfriend and by 9:30 am we were heading North for the forty five minute drive to the city.

The snow didn’t stop, instead the flakes got bigger and came down heavier as the day went on. With near zero temperatures the roads and parking lots got slushy and by the time we headed back South, between vehicle spray and falling snow, visibility on the highway was crappy.

Halfway to the girlfriend’s house the weather cleared, and it didn’t look like the area got the storm the city was getting.

I phoned Mister to see what the weather was like at the lake so I could decide if driving home or staying at the daughters one more night. He said, “Sunny and 5 above Celsius, all day.” I drove home that evening. The roads were dry the whole way.

So that was my Thursday, and its two seasons of weather in one day.

I should have taken pictures of the different conditions, but I was too busy enjoying the girls day out.

It’s not uncommon for us to get temperature changes, of ten or more degrees, during a single day. Now, that’s hard to dress for and why I pack more than I need. LOL

Do you get drastic weather shifts where you live?

A Romantic Drive, Resort Style

gr-cart

Our carriage awaits. Because of their narrowness, Mister and I jokingly refer to cruising in a golf cart as a romantic drive.

This picture was taken on Valentines Day. It was a warm plus 9 Celsius, for this cruise with my man. We didn’t even roll down the plastic doors when we went to the storage lot to shovel snow off the boat tarp. How’s that for a romantic outing? Funny thing was, we were content because together we enjoyed beautiful spring-like weather, and it put a taste of coming summer days into our hearts.

After completing the chore we cruised around and snooped at the new lakeside homes being constructed. Then we stopped by T & E’s house for a quick visit and to arrange our next card night.

Here, golf carts aren’t just on the course, they are a preferred choice of summer transportation. Hundreds travel the resorts roads, and their variety is extensive.

One would think with Mister’s vehicle interests our carts would be among those with custom rims, paint, or fancy modifications. But nope, ours are older and pretty plain except for a second seat conversation added to one.

Golf carts out and about in the winter is rare, but not unseen. One family, when they’re here on weekends even pulls an occupied toboggan around. Our kids sure would have been game for that activity when they were young. Wait, as adults they still would if our carts went faster.

Mister gets the above cart out when weather permits which helps break-up the long winter months. It handles well on snow covered roads, and it goes through a surprising amount of slush. With that said, I hope we don’t get stuck the next time we are out for a cruise.

Throughout our years together, going for drives has been a common and enjoyed pastime, although most of them are done in an actual vehicle.

I have had some of the most heartfelt and genuine conversations with family members and friends during road trips.

Do you enjoy going for drives?

Have you shared great conversations with someone while on the road?

 

The Old Stove

old-stoveThe children had scurried up the basement stairs coughing and wiping their watery eyes.

In the kitchen, I filled a tray with food and cooking supplies. Their clothing reeked of smoke as they passed and before their mouths opened to explain, I knew what had happened and what needed doing.

I hurried down into the landing. With a loud click the deadbolt released and I twisted the door knob. A gust of freezing winter air rushed inside, but I had propped the back door open anyway.

Next, I had trotted downstairs to help Mister, who had been abandoned and could be heard muttering unkind words to the stove he knelt before.

While he had crumpled and put more paper in the fire box I cracked open windows, then began waving whatever was handy and big enough to create a breeze.

Most times, the kids were on my heels and helped with the air clearing efforts.

That was a glimpse from some past Christmas mornings.

You see, we had a grand, old, wood-burning stove in our basement family room. Many times after unwrapping Christmas gifts, Mister would fire it up and make his tasty fried grits, eggs, and potato breakfast. The problem was the above scenario often occurred because the old stove could be temperamental to start a fire in.

If really cold or windy outside, a window needed to be cracked open. Crumpled newspaper and kindling needed to be shoved way back in the fire box, right to the base of the chimney, and we tried to never light the paper when the house furnace was running. Something about its air intake, up-drafts and down-drafts. I don’t know the science of it, I just know, smoke didn’t go up the chimney if you missed any of these steps.

Mister rarely bothered to stand on the couch to open the window, and so breakfast was sometimes delayed.

There was always lots of joking and giggling while we three cleared the room of smoke, and Mister got the fire roaring.

It took awhile to heat the cast-iron top enough to cook on, and the chilly room also had to be warmed from having windows and the door open, but soon the cooking began.

These mornings hold fond memories for our family.

Last year, we hosted the Christmas sleepover at the lake for our daughter her husband and their fur child and the son and his girlfriend. This year, the son and his girlfriend hosted, so Mister and I slept at their house.

Before we could leave our place in the morning we had to dig out from under about a foot of fresh overnight snow. That and road conditions delayed our day, but we made it to their place safe and sound.

After a simple Christmas eve supper, the son drove us around the city to look at Christmas lights.

Christmas morning after a joint effort the turkey and ham were put in the oven to cook. Then Mister made one of his grits and egg breakfasts, but because he used the electric range, it was smoke free.

Living only minutes away, our daughter and her husband didn’t sleepover but they came for the afternoon, the feast, and the gift exchange. We enjoyed another wonderful get-together. Little can beat a day like that.

One thing was missing.

Since Mister and I moved three hours from the city where the oldest daughter and family live it seems harder for them to visit.

As children grow, marry and start families, Christmas and other special occasions are when having a blended family becomes difficult. It means an extra set of parents, plus in-laws, etc. to spread time between, so we couldn’t catch up with them this year.

We understand their spare time is limited, and their life’s are busy and full with other family.

We make the trip and attend functions they invite us to, but we miss spending time with them.

We hope they know they are always in our thoughts and hearts though.

Double Double or Spiked

latte

This fall Mister began joining me for my afternoon coffee ritual, instead of my double cream, double sugar, his condiment of choice is a shot of Irish Cream liquor.

Some of you might know this drink by its nickname, Camping Coffee. It ordinated in the days of tents and no heaters but is still enjoyed by many.

For something different, I recently made myself a Irish cream latte. If you haven’t tried one, all you do is add Irish Cream to the milk before you steam it. You can make it with coffee creamer, or if you really want to warm-up use liquor.

Do you have a, hard to buy for, coffee drinker on your shopping list?

This is a faithful recipe for homemade Irish Cream liquor which I’ve had for years.

A bottle of this is a great gift idea.

Irish Cream Liquor

  • 1 Cup – Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 Cup – Water
  • 1 can(8oz) – Eagle Brand Milk
  • 3 – Eggs (mixed)
  • 2 TBSP – Instant coffee
  • 1 can(8oz) – canned milk 2%
  • ¼ tsp – Vanilla
  • 1 TBSP – Chocolate syrup

We always put mixture in dark bottles with screw tops, and remember to Keep this liquor refrigerated.

For almost two weeks, our abnormal and frigid winter weather kept us indoors more than usual. It motivated me to get items crossed off my to-do list, but it also brought on bouts of cabin fever. When that happened, decreased concentration and productivity meant I jumped between projects or spent time on trivial tasks like sorting bags of old buttons into colors. Mister got dragged into helping with that distraction, so we could clean off and eat lunch at the table.

Mister and I, are grateful for our special friends T & E, and card nights filled with laughter. These get-togethers sure help pass long winter evenings.

Because of cold traveling conditions I missed out on trips into town and snooping through the malls. Extreme temperatures even spoiled plans of our daughter and my BFF meeting me in the city for a shopping day.

Thank goodness, Mister and I got our gifts bought early or I would be in a panic right now.

Handmade gifts are done, the presents are wrapped, and all that’s left to do before the big day is some baking.

Our weather forecast predicts a warming trend, and I woke Sunday morning to a shockingly nice -4c which sure is better than the -20’s.

The smart thing would have been to bake during the cold spell. My excuse was, no room in the freezer to store stuff. Real reason, I just wasn’t into it.

Now, with the coming warmth I’ll want to be outside or go to town, but I better be inside baking. I really should have thought that through.

Do you bake at Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Curiosity Solved

experiment

For fairness, I brought equal amounts of water in identical plastic bottles, the cooler and insulated bag to room temperature. A necessary step because some came from our cold storage room. Wait, that sounds like we have a climate-controlled room, what I meant is I had to bring the hard-sided cooler in from its unheated storage room to warm up.

The afternoon temperature outside when I got this experiment underway was -20 C. Almost balmy for this nasty cold spell.

With a bottle of water inside, I placed the hard cooler, the cooler bag, and just a bottle of water, side by side so none were in sunshine and all would chill at the same rate.

Two hours later the temperature had dropped to -25 C outside. The exposed bottle’s water had froze solid but both in the coolers still hadn’t even crystalized yet so I let them be.

My next intention was to check the waters temperature from both cooler bottles to see if one was warmer then the other. I hadn’t planed ahead how I would do this though, so a search began for a thermometer.

Logical place to look first, the bathroom. Bought years ago and still in its package, I found a new digital style thermometer. I read the directions. Battery seemed good so into my mouth for a reading it went. Great news, I had no fever. Before I disturbed the experiment water I tried one more test with a cup of ice water. Umm, I found out it only reads if tip has contact, like under a tongue or in armpit, drats.

Perhaps a meat thermometer? Nope, don’t have one, it probably wouldn’t work in water, anyway. Now, I’m curious about that though.

On our fridge is a decorative magnet with a mercury temperature gage, so it got submerged in a cup of cold water. Keyword, decorative, the red line didn’t move. Funny, I’ve never noticed before that it didn’t work.

Mister joined the search. The only other portable thermometer inside the house is a weather station used to monitor the crawl space which houses our water pipes. This unit has a sensor on a wire, and it is old, almost the first of its kind.

We seldom check it anymore, and on inspection it’s no surprise to see it no longer displayed a reading. Mister took the back off and pushed reset, my job was to locate the tiny screw which dropped to the floor. Reset did nothing, he tested the batteries and changed those.

By this time supper in the oven was on the verge of becoming overlooked so we ate.

At 8:30pm, after 4 and 1/2 hours outside the water in the coolers had started to freeze. The insulated bag one only slightly more than the regular cooler. Not sure the accuracy but when tested the hard cooler water was .2 degrees warmer than cooler bag water.

Results were pretty predictable, but I was curious how much longer groceries would keep from freezing if insulated and if it mattered which we used, a hard or soft cooler.

In minus 20 degree temperatures water took an extra two and half hours to freeze if kept in a well insulated container.

With this knowledge, from now on, our lettuce should make it home safe.

Have you ever wondered how weather effects food delivered by big trucks? A lot more planning goes into this then you may think.

The son works in transportation for a large food distribution company so I asked him.

For transporting frozen and refrigerated goods reefer trailers are used. In extreme cold they can also heat the air so it is warmer inside then outside, keeping cargo at an ideal temperature.

They have 1-3 different temperature areas which can be divided by portable insulated walls. In extreme cold, produce and other sensitive goods, are sometimes wrapped to keep from freezing if they’re placed near doors.

Delicate things like ice cream cakes are put in insulated bags along with being in the freezer section just to make sure they don’t thaw.

Next time you buy groceries, you can now appreciate the work that goes into getting items to the store.

Did you learn anything from this post? I did.

 

Cold and Curious

temp

We’re in a bitter cold spell, and our way below normal, daytime highs are a problem on grocery day. Besides the obvious of Mister and I, and the vehicle, having less enthusiasm for venturing outside or off the yard.

It’s, how to get climate sensitive food home without issue.

Oh, and if you looked at the above picture and thought, can’t those old farts (smiley face) see the tire sensor light is on. Yes, we saw it, but not to worry we just don’t have winter air in the tires yet. If you don’t live in a climate like ours, that is a joke, because many vehicle tire sensors don’t read right when cold.

Back on topic, we live 20-40 minutes from any major city, so summer heat also causes problems. The drive home is long enough to melt ice cream, warm milk and even spoil meat if it’s sitting in direct sun. A simple fix is, coolers and ice packs on those days.

This weeks weather though, posed the opposite.

Since we had an appointment in the city, we filled our day with errands along with getting groceries. Sounds simple, but we like to shop different stores for certain things. So planning the order of stops is crucial for what you’ll risk freezing inside the vehicle while you continue your day. Sometimes, it’s near impossible to plan without driving back and forth across the city.

So I got thinking. Mister says that’s when I usually get into trouble. (smiley face)

How much protection from the cold, if any, would a insulated bag provide? 

Would it prevent lettuce or eggs from getting too cold while the vehicle is not running? 

Would an actual cooler work better than an insulated bag?

I’m not a science person, and yes, I could Google an question or ask the son or Mister, they probably know, but I’ve decided to do an old fashion home experiment. A high tech test on how long it takes for a bottle of water to freeze outside, compared to one in a insulate bag, and another in a cooler. Impressive concept and format, isn’t it? (smiley face)

Anybody care to take a guess if freezing time will vary enough to make a difference? 

I’ll post the results.