Friday, January 24, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside

Our local weather forecasters seem to forget this simple fact every year and act surprised when the temperature dips and snow falls.

Winter isn’t my favorite season, but there is a beauty in it. A softness, a quiet like no other season. I try to enjoy it and know that if I dress appropriately, I can even go out in it. There is no love, no hate, but an understanding and acceptance.

Well, there was. Then winter was just a jerk and took away our water.

First, there was this phenomenon called a polar vortex, and we fared pretty well. A week later, there was just cold and biting wind, and the water stopped. We had pipes freeze before, but with patience and slightly higher temps, they unfroze and we were back in business. No such luck this time.

The pipe didn’t just break, it shattered. And the water? It was everywhere. Michael found a cutoff so that we could have water in the kitchen sink, but the rest of the house was off limits. We were roughing it in our home until we could get to the pipe project. We’re pretty resourceful and try to have a sense of humor (and bottles of wine) about our house.
We were ready to tackle the project. We took off of work, had it mapped out and then Michael found out that he couldn’t take the day off; they needed him in the office. I had to choose: use the dry shampoo one more day and go to work waiting until Saturday so we could figure it out as a team, or fly solo. My dirty blond hair was looking a bit too dirty and there are limits to the miracle that is dry shampoo, so I ventured into the crawl space on my own.

I cut the old pipe out with minor difficulties and minor swearing (sorry, mom!), purchased new materials and replaced them. In ideal conditions (over 60 degrees), the pipe cement will be cured in two hours. Today did not include ideal conditions.
I had on so many layers, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to bend into the space that needed the work under the house. But, three hours after starting the project, the pipe is replaced (that includes the trip to the store). Now, I wait. And wonder if I did it right, and if the cement will hold and if I will get to have a shower tonight. I didn’t doubt myself during one step of the project, but now that I’m done I have nothing but doubts.

Michael was so thrilled that I took this project on that he has decided that I get to plan the plumbing in the guest bathroom that we’re finishing this winter. If the pipe holds, I may just be confident enough to try. Then again, work may just call me in that day. Turnabout is fair play, right?
An update: The pipes are still working and winter still hasn’t left us. As I type this on 16 March, we’re expecting about five inches of snow tonight.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To grow a garden is to believe in the future.

I’ve seen this quote a few times, and some of the time it is attributed to Audrey Hepburn. I never thought much about her – positive or negative, good or bad, but I love this quote. Turns out, she found solace in her garden near the end of her life, or at least that is what is documented on her hospice care. My guess is that if she found peace in her garden at the end of her life, it probably brought her joy throughout her life.
I know mine does. I start planning my garden – edible and flowers (and some edible flowers) in December… more than 5 months before the last frost date. I review what worked the past years, the notes I made on different seeds, conditions and outcomes. Last year was a rough year for me and for the gardens. The spring was a mess with too much rain, I had to leave the country for work for two weeks in the early growing season (May) and I never seemed to catch up. Even as I write that, I wonder if it is a metaphor for how I felt last year, but I haven’t had enough wine to really explore that sentiment any more than this one sentence.
I’ll chalk the 2013 growing season up to a learning experience (and a ridiculously productive cucumber and zinnia crop) and focus on ’14. Last year I added a 20 x 20 foot addition to the 2 raised beds (4 x 16 each) of my edible garden. I may have grown too fast, but I am ready this year. My plots are measured out, the seeds are purchased and ready to start in the greenhouse. First seeds go in early February. The flower seeds start a few weeks later, but they are also planned out.
I’m ready for tomorrow, but enjoying the planning today. A new year, a new garden and a new opportunity. Happy 2014.