Monday, November 30, 2009

Blue Lights.

We were out of coffee here at 27401, that most banal of things to report, lifewise, but it's true anyway, and it leaves the forecast on life support, on tea, but that's alright: we look a bit like London out there, and there's what seems to be a little squally rain on the way in out of the north and west, a fine way to carry us out the other side of a month that'll show us nearly eleven inches of rain before we're said and done, which will be a few short hours from now.

Coming this week, at 8 pm EST to a television near you: most of the old sixties Christmas specials. Charlie Brown. Rudolph. The Grinch. Hanging lights off the front of the house last night with TLK, it occurred to me that I like the season a hell of a lot better than I like the actual day itself. Even if it is a big-boy bike you're getting, a Diamondback without training wheels, there's something about the day that can't ever quite live up to whatever it is there is about November 30 or December 8 or the second Saturday out, going to the mall with your dad to shop for your mom—there's something about all the buildup that's better, something that gives you not quite hope, per se, but perhaps a general softness about the world, a belief, maybe, that as we wheel toward the darkest days of the year, the earth will in fact again tilt back the other way, and that we will warm and light ourselves once more. Or maybe it's just that we here at ANYLF are more inclined to worship at the altar of the solstice, and of weather, than we are anybody else's falderal. No matter: TLK, person extraordinaire, last night co-captained the operation back to the big box well after dark to buy more blue lights. Blue lights were where it was at, he asserted. Blue lights were still what was called for, even after we'd hung all the blue lights I had. So we did—buy more, that is, and hang those up, too—and so kicks off the season, whichever season it may be. Happy birthday, Frosty says, once they do whatever it is they do to him to bring him to life. This is before the tragedy in the greenhouse, of course.

We are home from Thanksgiving. Rescued from it, really. It is nearly December. There are low clouds. It is cool if not cold. Weather is on its way in. It is time for another cup of tea.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Momma Said.

Most of the fields on the ride in are browned over now, even though we haven't seen a freeze. I think I'm ready for one—I think I need some reminder of what we're up against. As it is, it sometimes feels as though we drag through the days and weeks with not nearly enough markers to know what to name everything. So goes November, friends and fans of these returning clouds. It's cool out there, but not so cool you need long sleeves for both layers. Oh, and that sound you hear may be the nest of bees inside my head. Or maybe it's just the one inside of yours.

Last day before Thanksgiving break. This thing gets a little more complicated every damn year. So does everything else, though, right? I think my momma may have said there'd be days like these. I think I just never believed her.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oceans Apart.

Another big shield of rain seems headed 27401ward here this evening—this has the makings of one of those nights where you're just hoping it's still raining when you go to bed so you can crack the window and listen to it go. You may want to tick the heater up a degree or two with this strategy. Sorry, carbon footprint. Sometimes mental health wins out.

In shed news—and oh, Weatherheads, I know you're wondering about the shed—all the rest of the rotten and sometimes ant-infested insulation is out, and all the knowledge one might need about damage, water-based and otherwise, is there for the taking. Answer: some, but so much better than what I was expecting to find that even when 'It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas' came on Delilah (today's journaling prompt: 'happiness outside the box') on the way home from a Sunday night puppet show commitment, I listened to it, and I maintained my good humor. Oh, Delilah. Do you think he'll ever come back? I just get so lonely this time of year. AMR, riding shotgun, after 'It's Beginning...' bled into some sort of A Very Mariah Xmas: what'll she bleed to next? A Richard Marx song?

OK. Let's just stop right there, shall we? 'Right Here Waiting' was ABOUT me and my long-distance middle-school summer-camp relationships, OK? Or high school. A quick internet search suggests I may have been in ninth grade when that thing came out. STILL. Now is not the time for mocking Richard Marx. Or for reminding me that other people do things like discover The Clash in ninth grade. For a brief period of time, I felt that Richard Marx may have been important, or was at least chronicling my deeds in song. Hold on to the night, people. Hold on to the memories.

Cold and steady rain. This is the kind of forecast you would have sold your thumb for in August. Not your good thumb. Your other one. But still.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Morning Edition.

Saturday morning edition: in the van on the way to the beach, my brothers sharing the bench seat in the middle, the back bench all to myself, the rule of primogeniture, etc. Or: in the red VW bug, a 1968 ragtop, the one my dad got after somebody crunched his white 1964 one, McDonald's breakfast out there in his and my immediate future, a trip to the mall two weeks before Christmas to shop for my mom, a trip to the hardware store any time of year for six bolts, a machine screw, a switch. Back in that van for an early soccer game in Roswell, back in that bug for an early baseball game out at Morgan Falls, the dump-cum-baseball field complex north of where we lived. In every one of these let's make me eight or nine—not quite old enough to know anything more than that Scott Simon's voice meant good things. Later on it'd come to mean I was up way too early on a Saturday.

We went cold last night—left for the after-dark dogwalk with no jacket, and regretted it. Woke up early enough this morning to make the prospect of seeing some chilly weather, drinking a pot of coffee, and switching on the radio seem like exactly how to spend a thinly-clouded Saturday morning. And here comes the theme song for that second hour.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Strange Days.

It feels a little strange around here when the sun's out, like someone left the cover off of something. We've seen so much rain and fog and drizzle and general cloud these last two weeks I don't really know what to do with a day like today. I mean, I can remember last weekend, have it as a kind of a jeweled set of days that felt like this one already does, but I don't really remember anything specific about it. I remember the sunny days right now like I used to remember the rainy days, back before it really started raining again: they feel familiar, but I can't quite say much else for sure about them.

If it's sunny enough, maybe we'll crisp over enough to do a little raking. Maybe a trip to the big box for a few bags of mulch to cover over some of the post-French-drain mudfest that is the perimeter of the writing shed. For now: a second pot of coffee. Let's not do anything to get ahead of ourselves, OK? Let's hold right about here in the ten-thirty hour and see what might arrive next.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Weather.

Or it would be, if it was twenty degrees colder. Still, I'll take these last two days. Pork stew. Brussels sprouts. Short ribs. Coffee. These are the foods you want to lean toward in times like this.

Heavy fog on the way home from the puppet show. Windshield-wiper fog.

Supposed to clear off tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Wintertime Barometer.

In order to determine the heaviness of the fog, one might, if one was up and about and padding around the house, determine whether or not the steeple, now that the leaves are down, was visible from the back windows. This morning: not visible. The fog, then: heavy.

Not so heavy that we can't see the houses next door, so it's not like we're entirely alone on this planet, but it does seem possible that there's only a very few of us left. One lovely thing about the fog: so, so quiet out there. And unless I'm crazy, it seems to be thickening a little.

Happy Tuesday to those of you who are not yet needing to see the sun.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

French Drained.

First, see if you can get it to rain eight inches in one month, seven of those in a week. If you have any normally-waterlogged areas, this will amplify all of the situations possible: it will show you where your drainage problems are, and it will also make the digging—there is going to be some digging—easier.

Determine that every single person who's looked at it, who's told you even one thing about it, is right—you really need to drain the entire frontage, plus some, of that outbuilding. 27 feet. A 27-foot trench, 12-18 inches deep and 24 inches wide, is what's called for.

Do it in a weekend.

Here's what fit in the trench, with room to spare: 2,050 pounds of pea gravel.

Which means—and this is only a guess, but I wheelbarrowed the dirt out, and the gravel back in, and I feel like I can say with some authority that the exceptionally wet clay weighed about what the gravel did—at least 2,050 pounds of dirt up the hill and through the driveway and back down the hill to the downhill mouse's yard—she's got drainage problems of her own, has some shifting of the grade in mind.

I did landscaping in my teens and twenties. I remember dump truck loads of gravel and of soil in clients' driveways, remember having to move that amount of shite in a day or two.

Oh, teens and twenties. Right now the fucking tops of my feet hurt (sorry, kids). Everything, everything hurts. My teens and twenties may, it turns out, have been 15-20 years ago.

If we ever get water in that building again, I will probably have to kill the French. I will be all, Please hold still while I club you in the head with this sack of gravel, s'il vous plait.

Two astonishingly beautiful days to go with all this pain, though. Sun and seventies. So beautiful. So. One more day of that tomorrow, and then we cool off, and that'll be beautiful, too. Keep it tuned here: there may be keen interest next time it rains.

Postscript: cut to me cutting a small piece of the landscape fabric off the roll after I'd dumped 2,050 pounds of gravel into the trench—I came inside and made a little pouch and ran it under the sink to make sure it was water-permeable. Nice timing, me. Result of experiment: it is. I would have had to kill myself with a sack of gravel otherwise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Water Vapor.

That's Ida there, just off the coast, or well off the coast, I guess, in comparison to where it's been—and those are the high clouds we've got this morning right there in the center of North Carolina, and, locals, if you look out your window, that is the sun you're seeing, even through those high clouds. Remember the sun?

We are on our way towards unseasonable warmth, and I can't, I guess, complain—the kitchen windows are open back here in the back of the house, and the wind is making that winter sound it makes as it comes through the mainly leafless branches, and I've already been to the store and back, and there is juice in the house, and good bread. A day of trench-digging stretches out in front of me here at 709—one thing seven inches of rain will do for you is show you just where and how you ought to French drain your writing shed. I'm looking forward to the work, even: something straightforward, like a hole in the ground, something that doesn't come with a lot of questions, might be good on a day like today.

If you do have any questions, though, I offer this, from the grocery, this morning:

Dad, to two kids, ages maybe eight and nine: Well, if you vote for the team you think will win, your odds are pretty good. But if you vote for the team you want to win, it gets harder.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Your Letter.

Dear KFW:

In brief answer to your query, dated 5:48 a.m. November 13, here is about the best we at ANLYF can piece together vis-a-vis what in tarnation is going on out here, or out there, in the Mid-Atlantic: Yes, this is still, sort of, Ida. First, a short film, which takes us give or take to Tuesday (you may have to hit "refresh" on the browser of your choice to cause it to play):

Thanks, NASA! That's from this fabulous NASA article about Ida, which is itself part of this fabulous NASA web situation having to do with hurricanes in general. Cite your sources, people. Now: where were we? Ah. Yes. That film was Ida making landfall, coming up out of the Gulf and ashore at give or take Alabama, but that was only part of the fun. What happened then was that it rode basically across the panhandle of Florida and through south Georgia and then set up off the coast of the Carolinas sort of as itself, and sort of as a new coastal low, and it may or may not have incorporated another little coastal low, and then all that strengthened. Or re-strengthened. Here's what NASA has to say about it in their above-noted article (and the pressure information is specific to Nov. 12):

What's interesting is that Ida is a stronger system now as a coastal low pressure system than when it made landfall in Dauphin Island, Alabama as a tropical storm. At that time, its minimum central pressure was 999 millibars. Today, its minimum central pressure is 992 millibars.

And here are a couple of images of that stronger coastal low, spinning down there somewhere near Wilmington and Myrtle, dropping seven inches of rain on Greensboro, among other spots. First, infrared from Wednesday afternoon, as things are setting up:

And then satellite from yesterday afternoon:

One thing the NASA folks talk about is how Ida "spread out" before landfall; that is, as near as I can tell, Ida still made landfall as a storm of some manner, but had already seen enough shear and general fallout (and may even have separated into two lows—its surface low and upper-level low may have become uncoupled) to become pretty disorganized pretty quickly—not strong enough, any longer, to hold itself together on any real kind of track. Then, once what was left hit the Atlantic, instead of having remnant tropical circulation—instead of having real circulation of its own—it reintensified as what was/is almost a new storm, the nor-easter that hit us all day yesterday and is hitting New Jersey today.

Here's an actual expert explaining things a little more expertly: Stu Ostro at his fancy Weather Channel blog.

Finally, here's a current (10 a.m./Nov. 13) satellite shot from NOAA—

—which makes it look as though what we might now be seeing is more fog and remnant cloud cover than anything else, and that all this is about over and done with. So. Yeah. That was still Ida. This is still Ida. But: it's supposed to be 74 and sunny on Sunday. We may even see shades of that tomorrow. Hey, fall.

KFW, we here at ANYLF are and remain yr hmbl svts,

The Weatherheads

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sump Pump.

When the new one comes—some time later on this morning, on the heels of another 3.5" or so of rain last night—I'll not feel the need to stand in the filling basement at 5 a.m., knocking on the sump pipe with a 2x2, making the pump kick back on again and pull, at a pace just exceeding the water leaking in through the wall, the water back out through the wall. When the new pump comes, the switch that is supposed to do that all by itself will, ideally, do it all by itself. Water in the basement. Water in the outbuilding. Water everywhere. Seven inches in the last 48 hours. More coming, I think. Oh: and from the other direction entirely. From the north, now. This is a storm, friends and fans of storms. This right here is sure and sure a storm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

All Day.

All day long the weather came generally out of the south and west. It's now turned—coming out of the south and east. Possible we're going to see the few more inches they're wanting to give us? Possible that coastal low is setting up?

Holy hell it's raining and blowing. In case you were wondering. This is some weather.

Ida Update.

At least 3.3" so far. And we don't seem all that finished. If you're looking for some cold and some gray and some wind and some rain, then man, have we got the Wednesday for you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Live Coverage.

OK. Let's just get our ducks lined up, shall we? From The Weather Channel, vis-a-vis our next 36 hours here on the Piedmont:

And from the National Weather Service, by way of the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, just for confirmation and for a little more exactness:

A quick satellite overview of Ida, soon to be extratropical, and having just made landfall in Alabama:

And the doppler, just to fill out the picture:

So I know that even though it looks like all the water's in Georgia and Tennessee, and not headed this way, the fancies are apparently wanting all the water to head this way. If, say, you were just on the cusp of a big old waterproofing project of an outbuilding, and you wanted one more time to check for places where water might get in, then it appears the next couple of days or so ought to be good ones for just such checking. 2-4 inches by Thursday, say most of the places that have their own professionals. I feel like that maybe can't quite be completely true—that this is one of those Snow Day Tomorrow! situations, wherein it'll do what they say it's going to do, but not quite to the excess that they're breathlessly live-from-anywhere-you've-ever-heard-of-on-the-Gulf-coast predicting.

Still. We should not complain. It's good for everybody to have something to do in November. It's good to have the lawn already raked with rain on the way. It's good to remember the ocean at a time like this.

Keep it here, friends and fans of local forecasts. We will update as warranted.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ida May.


I mean, friends and fans of weather, this is something to see coming, is it not? And if you're asking, How could we have a hurricane, but no baseball, why then I'd say to you, There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Or I'd say to you, It is the fault of the New York Yankees. Or I'd say to you, Hurricane season extends until the end of November, and while this is a little late, it is not entirely out of the ordinary, and it isn't even technically unseasonable. And then you would say, Why do you have to give me three separate answers for every question I ask? And I'd say to you, Bedtime, little one. Sleep tight, and dream of cheese.

One nice thing—the only nice thing?—about the time change is that one can spend all damn day pulling paneling and plywood and insulation out of one's outbuilding, then come in once it gets dark and discover that there is still plenty of evening left to turn one's attention to the tropics, to the weather at large, to a hot shower, a wee scotch, the needs of a very tired sunstruck dog, who spent all day in the yard making sure you were where you needed to be.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Freeze Warning.

Well, weatherers. A freeze warning for the 2740Xers among you, plus Ida down in the Gulf—what more could you want, come early November? Does that last comma belong in that last sentence? Hard to say, and no matter: This is all of it, all the weather, right here, I do believe. I'm just back from a second consecutive late-night dogwalk, a thing that's starting to feel regular, necessary, and my hands hurt from the cold. There's raking that needs doing. The neighborhood smells of fireplaces. Upstairs, bedded down, one wants for all the covers. The animals are sleeping in tight curls. Orion is back. This may be the last night for the ferns and the impatiens. This is the weather that makes it simple to dream about tomorrow's coffee pot. This is where the kid comes in your office for her 1:30 appointment and says, I know you worship at the altar of cold weather. Yes, KT, I do, and that's at least a half a letter grade for noticing, standards and rigor be damned. I am not proud, or fair.

Hey, winter edging in. That'll be fine.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Loose Leaves.

The thing about Greensboro, the thing about this town that is not the thing about all the other towns I've lived in, is loose-leaf collection—and nobody'd much care about this, except that loose-leaf collection means piles of leaves along the curbs in late fall, and the dog loves really not much more than standing in a pile of leaves, which means, come November, that the dog gets primally, vestigially happy, which means I do, too, which means saddling the dog up for eleven p.m. dogwalks, which are not the norm here at 709/27401, but which, come now, come fall, come November, are the best thing, the only thing, the thing about this town.

Also: woke up bleary-eyed this morning after a night of bad and little sleep, found the coffee already made, poured a cup, let the dog out the back, and stepped out there into the bright to find the temperature at least ten degrees warmer than I expected it to be. Sat out on the step in my flannel pajama pants and dumbass company-man puppet-show hoodie and drank coffee while the dog paced the yard and thought, If it could be like this all the time, I would be OK.

To recap: piles of leaves. Coffee in the sun. If those are our bookends, then we might just pull through.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chilly Night.

It's not so cold that when you step out onto the back porch to see how cold it is you think winter's set in, but it's certainly chilly, certainly the kind of night where if you were to walk the dog, you'd want an extra layer. Maybe your grandfather's ancient flannel. Maybe a wee dram. It's chilly, is what it is. It's a weather. It's definitively warmer in than out. On a night like this one appreciates central heat, a blanket, a good pair of socks. Not your best pair of socks, surely, but a good one.

Leaf raking. Sunshine. Warm lunch hours and jacketed nights. That's what's in store. The dog in all her fuzzy glory, if I'm allowed to say that. All I know is that there's a lot of white fur starting to turn up around here.

Fucking Yankees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Possible Frost.

All day long it seemed warmer than the fancies said it would be, and all evening, sporting my sweet damn thirdhand Dickies jacket, I wondered if we'd even get close to the thirties we'd been promised, and then all the way home from the puppet show, windows cracked if not down, I thought, Frost, hell.

But it's good and crisp out there now as we ride toward midnight. Something happened right around ten o'clock. That's going to be a right cold morning out there in the de-ceilinged, de-insulated shed. Time to get things lined up out there, I imagine. Time to pull everything else out so that things can start going back in.

Things are a little akimbo here at 709. We could perhaps stand for a wee bit of straightening. Planning. Getting ready for the winter. Hunkering down, is I think what some folks might say.

The pansies are starting to perk up out front—starting to look like the weather is more their weather. Dark or no, it's starting to look more like mine, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Eastern Standard.


Here is what I like: Christmas lights, fireplaces, sleet, the long bleak stretch of six or eight weeks somewhere mid-January towards Spring Break, crocuses, Thanksgiving, long sleeves, hats and coats, the dog with all her fur, coffee, tea, chili, roast root vegetables, scotch.

But the dark takes a while to fit on right.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Misters November.

People, it's turned cold, and it's caught me unawares. Cold and drizzly. The fancies had wanted sun. Cool, but sunny. And now? Gray all day long, then cooler and cooler until we finally went cold, and also along with that all manner of fog and rain and drizzle—friends and fans of weather, if I didn't know any better, I'd say we'd eventually, tonight, arrived unabashedly at November. Somebody check the time to see if it's changed over from Daylight Savings. Oh. It has. I see.

And this'll jinx it for sure, but the Phillies have just homered to tie Game Four. Get thee to a nunnery, designated hitter.

And oh dear sweet baby Jesus in a three-quarter-length-sleeved t-shirt, they've brought in Brad Lidge. For those of you just tuning in, he had a tough regular season.

But this is not This Week In Baseball. This is the forecast, and the forecast is this: flannel and fleece, jeans and boots. The heart of the Yankees order up here in the top of the ninth. The dog, dinner-plate-sized, curled into sleep on the sofa. The wind rattling the windows in their frames. Cold. Or cool. One of the two.