Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Melts Away

Alone on the mountain top, I watch the snow melt on the last day of 2009 before a deep, deep freeze arrives to bring in the new year. I'm talking cold here, major cold. Anything else that is going to melt from the snow of two weeks ago hasn't got much time left. The final minutes of melting are ticking away. My nipples get hard just thinking about what is to come.

Frankly being trapped by the snow is making me a bit cranky. I don't like sitting around twiddling my thumbs being unable to do things. The driveway down to the cozy cabin is still covered in snow and being unable to transport supplies inhibits what little progress could be made in these conditions. Tomorrow I just may have to bite the bullet and shovel another 150 feet of driveway without a proper snow shovel. Otherwise it will be a unusable sheet of ice for the next week at least.

There must be some way to make myself feel better about the recent work slowdown. How much progress has been made on the cozy cabin in the last year?

This picture is from November 7th 2008.

From Outside Clyde

This picture is from December 5th 2009.

From Outside Clyde

What is not visible in the picture above is a plumbing system that finally passed inspection, the insulation and beadboard ceiling of the floor structure, drywall that is hung and countless numbers of details. A well was drilled and a gas tank and gas lines were installed. Good progress was made in 2009.

That was helpful. I will still feel better when the sun comes out and the temperature goes back above freezing some time late next week.

Happy New Year everyone. 2010 the Year of Completion is here.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Waiting For A Wintry Mix

A Snow Free Roof

The Snow Leopard

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Tip of The Iceberg

This is what greeted me upon arriving at Client #1's to start cleaning up the mangled mess created by the big Dump of '09'. Giant piles of snow in parking lots are expected in Buffalo. They look entirely out of place in Clyde.

The branches resting in the snow pile were just the beginning of the shattered limbs of the White Pines strewn beneath and caught in the tops of the row of pines that act as a screening from the main highway behind them. A Lacebark Pine, Magnolia grandiflora and a grouping of Pfitzer Junipers were also a bit tore up.

Everything was picked up from the ground and what could be reached with a pole saw was pulled out of the trees. There are still more broken branches up there high in the tops of the pines. I don't climb trees. It was a good start on returning the garden to order. More snow needs to melt before the more detailed cleanup can begin.

Nine days after the snow stopped and it still hasn't all melted. It hasn't gotten warm enough. As a matter of fact it has gotten colder. The morning low was sixteen. I doubt that it made it above freezing up here on the mountain today.

More snow is in the diagnosis for New Years. And rain. And sleet.

Lowes was sold out of snow shovels. I wanted me a real snow shovel. You can see the difference in the driveway between where I had to shovel to escape and where I didn't. I didn't get very far on that first attempt to get out.

I just thought it would be nice to have the proper shovel for the next break out if I should happen to need to go anywhere. That is bound to occur at some point, me actually needing to be somewhere. I hope.

Monday, December 28, 2009


This is a typical scene along the roads and byways of WNC right now. Pine trees every where are snapped in half, mangled with multiple broken limbs or just plain fell over, their roots pulled from the ground.

The road shoulders are littered with trees cut just enough to get them off the road. It is no wonder I was without power for four days during the Big Dump of '09'

I stopped by Client #1's today and it too was severely mangled. A garden with a strong evergreen component for screening and winter interest has taken a big hit. Tomorrow I will start the cleanup. Just a few short weeks ago I was contemplating evergreen screening for my own garden and have now witnessed this strange destruction of conifers. It gives one pause.

Back at the low spot on a mountain top the destruction was much less severe, thank you very much. Still that vent pipe on the left should be standing up straight like the vent pipe on the right. Now I have another reason to climb up the side of the resident gardeners house. I still have not investigated the possible entrance hole of the varmint making the loud chewing sound in the ceiling. Damn varmints!!

The poor juniper below the deck is only going to be a shell of its former self when the snow finally melts and releases it. After the damage is cut off there may not even be enough worth saving.

The other conifer collection out front looks to have fared a bit better. There seems to be less damage so far. It is sad to grow something for fifteen years to become a major element of the garden and then lose it to a situation it has withstood numerous times before.

Gardening is a crap shoot. Sometimes that notion is shouted loud and clear.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Return To Snow

If I had not busted out on Thursday with four hours of shoveling, I would probably still be stuck behind a wall of snow on the driveway.

I kind of thought the snow would all be gone by the time I got back. Not even close. The driveway down to the cozy cabin is still buried in a foot of snow. Tomorrow I will go have a closer look.

More snow is diagnosed for tonight and then again mid-week. I think I'm gonna be needing me a real snow shovel for the rest of this winter.

In my short duration here it is unheard of for the snow to last for a solid week after it falls.

A test of endurance continues. The power went out again while I was gone. One of the PVC pipe plumbing vents on the roof of the resident gardeners house is bent at an angle of brokenness from the snow sliding off the roof. The icemaker water line leaked through the basement ceiling when I turned the well back on. I'm not sure if the furnace is behaving oddly or if I am being skittish as it warms a house that was 44 degrees upon my return. I left the thermostat at 55.

Crawford finally appeared two hours after dark. Collar came home shortly after I got home and called for them. I still have two kitties thank goodness. Those big foot prints with claws all around below the deck had me concerned. I bet the hounds were running the grounds again. The tracks were too big for a coyote and too small for a bear. Just right for a hound dog.

The partially melted snow has revealed one severely damaged juniper below the deck and I have not even checked the rest of the ridge top garden.

I should count my blessings though. The drive along I-40 between here and Asheville looked like a hurricane had gone through. The number of downed and damaged trees, mostly pines was astounding.

All those mangled trees out there and the half fallen Black Locust here is still hung up in the other tree and poised to crush the apple tree or anything else below it it at any time.

Is this how winter is really supposed to be?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Short Walk Along The River

The sunshine state is a bone chilling 44 degrees on a cloudy day. The humid chill here penetrates much more deeply.

In some ways it is almost a foreign land, foreign forest to me now. The stretch of time leaves only ghostly familiar memories.

The river looks the same.

Perhaps it always will.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Family

Where I went and from where I come.

There are two parents, two sisters, two brothers, three spouses, one cousin with two sons and mother in law, minus spouse taking picture, two nieces, two nephews and me under an old oak tree.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Escape Even Possible

Tomorrow I will attempt an escape. Will it even be possible?

You folks living up north where snow is a normal occurrence need to chime with with tips and hints on how to get to the scenic byway on a snow covered drive.

It's down to about a foot of fairly slushy snow now. The tire track zone has been walked even lower. Tonight there will not be a hard freeze. This entire dump has been a blessedly warm event.

One small Ford Ranger truck with rear wheel drive and a bed loaded with snow for the extra weight is going to make a break for it in the morning after the sun comes up and it warms just a bit. Wish me luck.

Well, it's a cat house now. I hope they are checking it out now while I type and decide they like it. It will be home for a few days.

I will have snow issues to contemplate during this brief escape. This does not look appealing in the least from a safety perspective. Metal roofs must have entirely different properties when it comes to shedding snow.

The dry stack stone wall is in the thud zone and with a much larger wallop.

But hey, that wall is still standing and there were a couple of people who dissed its stability. Preventative caution however is not unwarranted. Note too how the wet stones pick up a red tint to match the columns.

Very zen like. Mountain peaks high above the clouds.

I will take a moment to think zen thoughts before pressing the gas pedal forward to escape.

The Big Dump Of 09

A blogger's avatar is buried up to his eyeballs in snow from the Big Dump of '09'. Only the tiniest of windows remained open to the outside world. An old land line phone that doesn't need electricity to work is plugged in to see if a call can be made to the utility company. It works, but the phone doesn't ring when someone tries to call me.

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee and I'll tell you about the mundane routine of staying alive when you are powerless, cut off from the world and trapped from escape. Water for my morning cup of coffee was stacked neatly on the table out on the deck.

Despite plummeting temperatures inside the igloo, the refrigerator was beginning to warm and the freezer to thaw. There was plenty of cold, just not in the right places. Boxes were excavated in the drifts of snow piled on the deck and the contents of the freezer were placed outside. Let's hope the varmints are snowed in too.

Now I have discovered that the shady west facing deck makes a better freezer than the sunny south facing one.

Rise before dawn and light a fire. The record interior low was 49 degrees on the third day. Boil snow for some coffee. Ah the joys of a gas stove. A full pot of snow amounts to an inch of water in the bottom of a pot.

Trudge to the top of the ridge top garden to collect log sections to be split into firewood. Bring logs down below the deck where there is room out of the snow to work. Tend the fire to keep it burning hot.

Split logs into firewood. Tend the fire to keep it burning hot. The goal for the day is to get the inside temperature back up to 60 degrees at a minimum. Fetch more logs. Split more wood. Tend the fire to keep it burning hot.

By mid-afternoon enough wood was chopped and stacked to make it through the night and into the next frigid morning. There is time for a stroll. Shrubberies are pressed to the ground from the weight of the snow. Only the melt will reveal if there has been damage.

The poor dying Hemlocks get a few last moments of splendor.

Talking story with the younger James while they searched for the invisible cow, he told me that this small cabin had burned down twice. I worry about leaving a hot untended fire. A conventional fireplace has to be the absolute worst way to heat a house. Eighty percent of the heat goes up the chimney and it is constantly spitting out hot embers into the room. If you close the glass door even less heat makes it into the room.

Let me just say if I do not light another fire for the rest of the winter I will be quite content.

All lined up and ready to go.

We can hope for a year to come without Late Blight.

It seems like a good chunk of snow has slid off the roof of the cozy cabin. I watch this knowing any plantings along this side of the cabin will have to anticipate the thud. The final knowing will be to see what if any difference is created by a heated cabin. It could be too that some snow guards that will break up the sheet into smaller pieces will be needed on the roof.


This could qualify as winter interest.

In a heavy snow, stones have to have some substance to create any kind of a lump.

Red columns in the white snow.

It is time to head back to tend the fire. If I want to make 60 degrees before dark I need to keep it burning hot. I lose about ten degrees while I sleep.

Supper is chosen from the deck and cooked on the gas stove while there is still enough light to see. Tend the fire. Keep it burning hot before the boredom of pitch dark sends you to bed.

Rise before dawn to light a fire. Boil snow for your morning coffee. Tend the fire. Fetch logs down to below the deck. Split wood. Tend the fire. Cook some dinner. Tend the fire. Repeat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Scenic Byway

One of the good things about living on the scenic byway is that it is a major state highway. They keep this road plowed and plowed well whenever it snows.

Tuning left out of the resident gardeners driveway takes you into the Kingdom of Madison. We don't go that way very often.

The scenic byway looks fit for travel if you can get onto it. You need someone else to plow your own driveway.

Turning right from the resident gardeners driveway takes you to the mountain metropolis of Waynesville. Most often we go that way.

When the time comes that I might actually need to be some where in the winter it will be good to know someone who plows driveways.

For now I just stock up before hand and wait for it all to melt. That usually doesn't take to long in a southern winter. This time I don't think I will be able to avoid shoveling out a hole in the three and a half foot high and four foot thick berm of snow the scenic byway plow left at the entrance to the driveway. I am supposed to be going to Florida soon.

Tomorrow we'll have a chat about what it was really like during the Big Dump of '09'.