Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Night.

I'm sitting here in the light of the tree on the very cusp of the morning of the last night of the year with more icy rain than was forecast falling outside, and all I can think is: this is good. Even without downspouts on the outbuilding, this is good. This is how it goes right here at the dead damn bottom of the year. There is a woodstove. There is the stewing idea of a blackeyed-peas-and-pork stew for tomorrow, or for the First. There is the way things go, goddamnit. There. I said it. There is the way things go. This is the way things go. A new year. A new building. A new woodstove, installed by a dude who said, in response to my urging him not to cut the shit out of himself, I hope I don't. I'm on a lot of blood thinners.

May we all make it around the corner of the new year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting Colder.

If I do get a woodstove into that building back there, it'll be just in time—a warmish (maybe fifty degrees?) rain is forecast for some point over the next forty hours, and then we set back into that highs-in-the-low-forties/lows-in-the-low-twenties kind of thing. We'll get a tinfoil sun to go with it, probably a little breeze, and it'll take until late morning to get fully light, and then we'll already be pushing evening by four o'clock. This is how it goes as we spin into the new year here on the Piedmont. This is January, leastways the seasonal version of it. Years past we've had sixties and seventies and dry and dry. But twenty inches over our average rainfall for the year and a serious December snow means this is not years past. This is this year, or the end of it, anyway. Auld Lang Syne and all that, OK? Tinsel? Champagne? Long sleeves and more long sleeves? Gird up, people. By February the light gets longer. By February one starts to sense some kind of grinding change. But January is a haul, pure and simple. January requires commitment. January is an acquired taste. This is to say nothing of late December. I love it, and you do, too, but I'm still trying to make sure we're all ready for it. It takes a lot to shut one year down and get another one underway. Let's us count up fingers and toes. Make sure we've got our mittens, our mufflers. Buy an extra bag of coffee means just in case. A can of soup or two. Batteries. A flashlight. Let's not let some brand-new year arrive and catch us unawares.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Afternoon Light.

Again TLK rides the avenging angel of the green pickup to my rescue, and the windows are in. Warmest it was all day is how it was this morning, and things just fell off from there. Cold and clear. Threat of snow late week. But the windows are in, frozen fingers be damned, and we see right out there on the edge of the horizon, just out there past where the sextant can say what is and what isn't, the prospect of all of this—well, Phase One, anyway, which is: tear the building to shreds, and then paste it back towards usable—coming to some kind of Januaried close, which is to say: has anyone ever seen a sentence do what this one is doing? And: might we finally, sometime soon, move back towards the idea of sentence, and away from the idea of inch-and-five-eighths exterior-rated screws? I love the work. Don't get me wrong. But I'm ready, now, again, to work—to sit at the desk, to see what there might be in that halfassed half of a new book. Enough—oh, wait for it, friends and fans of puns—screwing around.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twelve Days.

We hit fifty degrees today, friends and fans of weather, and I surely hope you enjoyed it—serious winter returns tomorrow and hangs on through the new year. Snow late week, maybe, and rain. Low forties will be as good as it gets. Makes a body happy to have hung glueless gutters off the front of the shed this afternoon. Oh, compression fittings. Oh, no minimum temperature for gutter glue to bind, to set up, to etcetera. Oh, brand-new vinyl gutters hung off brand-new PVC soffit boards. Those things will be here after the building to dust itself returns. I know, I know. My fault we raise our general temp degree by degree. My carbon footprint expanded by them selfsame vinyl gutters, them selfsame PVC soffits and eaves. But I say unto thee: mightn't there be some offset by the building not rotting, not needing replacement? By the tax-credit woodstove to be installed this week? By the bats and bats of insulation, coming soon to a shed near you? Is bats of insulation anything like a murder of crows? Tune in next week, when we'll hear our hero say... rained at least an inch and half over Christmas, and the redone building did not leak. It is lying in a low spot in the yard, but it's now swaddled in Tyvek, so here's to progress. Here's to new doors, windows where there once were doors, flashing, and all else learned water-intrusion-wise in the last fifty or three hundred years. The building is dry, and the building is sound, so far, knock on oriented strand board. But that has got to be more than enough—for now, anyway—about my little slab-on-grade situation. Instead, let's say this: Cold dogwalk tonight after dark. Whatever front that brings the chilly weather back has come through, or is coming through. It's about to be January, and it feels like it. Happy bowl week. Happy St. Steven's Day. Happy what have you. It's that emptied-out season. It's the best part of Christmas. It's time, maybe, to go in the other room and sit by the tree. You haven't taken it down yet, have you? You're not one of those clean-up-right-after-it's-over types, are you? If you are, go out to the curb and get that thing and put it back up. Twelve days of Christmas, people. Twelve. At least. You have to block out time to play with your toys.

Friday, December 25, 2009

White Christmas.

Snow up here in 28805. Not today's snow: what we got out of the sky today was ice and rain, and mainly rain, at that. But there's so much snow left here from last week's blizzard that if you wanted to call this a White Christmas, you probably could. Somebody get Bing Crosby in here with a pipe and maybe a tumbler of bourbon. Somebody get Donna Reed. Was that Donna Reed in that film? Probably not. Does it matter? Probably not.

The dogs have been walked; the presents have been opened. ANYLF got a BMX bicycle and a radio-remote controlled car and a big book on paper airplanes and some socks and a gift certificate to Coconut's Records and Tapes at the mall. I'm totally buying Jefferson Starship's Knee Deep in the Hoopla. Time now to shower up and put on that scratchy new white shirt and sit down to the big formal dinner, candles and napkin rings and all. And then, at the end, my Dad'll bring in the flaming figgy pudding.

It was a good Christmas. They always are, though, aren't they, in their own way? There is always weather, one way or the other. There is always that same feeling of waking up just before sunrise on Christmas morning. I don't get out of bed right then any more, but there is still that feeling all the same. Not sure I ever want to be cured of that. Happy Christmas, out there, Weatherheads, if that's the way you tilt. If not, then happy Friday. God -- or NOAA -- bless us, every one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

French Doors.

Christmas is coming. The goose is getting fat. French doors, even prehung, are no simple thing to hang. Not to mention: it's hard as hell to hang house wrap right-side up. You don't know how hard until you've started.

Rain coming. Then sun. This is how it goes.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long Day.

Doctor. On the mend. Outbuilding. On the mend.

Today, though, friends and fans of wheeling through the solar system, was of course not as long as yesterday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Solstice Happenings.

It's dark and cold, the steeple's lit up through the kitchen windows, there's ice in the yards and snow on the roofs. Solstice. Quiet. Took the third wall off the outbuilding, the bad wall, the below-grade wall, and found the sill plate improbably, impossibly, sound. I had expected disaster, rot, fiasco, and instead found only minor infestation and incidental damage. Nothing rising to plague status. New sheathing back up, and now there's just the french-drained front wall to go. Doors and windows in on Wednesday. What surprises could be left? Surely nothing as surprising as the moment I ran the screw gun through—through, friends and fans of puncture wounds—my thumb late this afternoon. In one side and out the other. Had the presence of mind to take myself off the ladder, walk to the back door, knock on the glass, ask AMR to untie my shoes and implement our Emergency Action Plan, which was: run impaled thumb under cold water; try not to faint or die. Apply gauze. Check in the mirror for level of greenness in face. Oh, I was green.

Tomorrow: the home improvement big box, and a tetanus shot at the walk-in clinic near the big box. I am wounded, but lo, I am not slain. Left thumb. I'm right-handed. Could be worse. As through and through puncture wounds go, in fact, this has got to be about the best-case scenario.

My little building out back is meant to be some kind of something I stand up against the rest of the world, a little place to try and make sense of what there is. What must those pre-anything folks have thought when they figured out that today was the bottom of the year, that every day after brought them closer to planting, to harvest, to living in the mouth of the cave instead of back by the fire?

The dog comes in the kitchen, wagging, wants out so she can come back in. This is about all we ever want, isn't it?

Owls out there in the trees. Close.

That low sun today, lowest of the year—there was warmth in it still.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Christmas.

There's always been something lonely—and this is reportage, or confession, and absolutely not lament—about Christmas for me. Maybe I get it from my dad, who can be so, so present, and then jackknife back into himself around the corner of a dinner or a party. There's something about the deepening darkness of the season, the pressure of gifting, the need to celebrate in outward ways—lights, camera—that runs counter, somehow, to the way I've turned out. We loved Christmas growing up, made it from scratch out of state dinners and refrigerator-sized boxes of decorations. Or: my mother made it, would be the way to say this most accurately. It was her holiday, and they were her decorations. An embarrassment: once we were old enough, we boys formed a confederacy of mockery, teased her about the mice up the bannister, the holly on the mantel, but here and now I want to say I've finally come to understand it, wish I'd understood it then—she had to make the season into something that made sense to her, which is all any of us are ever trying for, right? There's what I think might be a communal loneliness about Christmas, about the bottom of the year—we say hello to one another walking dogs, hanging lights, but mightn't all the dogwalking and light-hanging be one more way of showing outwardly how badly we mean to be part of it all, but then, and still, how necessarily we must return to our own houses? How much we need to have our own trees, brought inside our own living rooms, strung with our own ornaments? I love this time of year, love what my parents gave me, which was an insistence, for instance, that they could hear Santa's sleigh bells on the roof, which would send us scurrying to bed—I love the memories of that full house at Christmas, the goose, the apples, the stockings, the oranges, the fucking Depeche Mode two-tape Live From Red Rocks that was the only thing I wanted that year—but I love, too, that first memory of sitting with my mom, or with my dad, in that late-night glow of the lights on the tree, the radio playing low, and then coming up, surprisingly, those first times, that first time, with an abiding sense of deep loneliness—of being alone, even as I sat with someone else.

Some gap opens up in me at Christmas. And I like it, like to remember it again—that gap is there all year, and I notice it all year, but in the shine of these lights, I feel like maybe I can see it more clearly. And more clearly still with these four inches of snow and sleet on the ground. This has been forever and always, even in the sheen of Diamondback bikes, a season of confusion, and I welcome it back here and now, tonight, this week, this month. Bring on the dog, the corn muffins, the pot of chili, the snapped push broom, ruined in an attempt at snow removal. Bring on this little hollow place. Bring on the abject sentiment and the recalibration that comes with that. Merry Christmas. Happy Christmas. There will still be coffee tomorrow, there will still be three meals. But you tell me if it doesn't, every time it comes around, feel different—if it doesn't feel like, regardless of your persuasion or affiliation, that there's some star, somewhere, that you're meant to set off and follow, not necessarily with any other companions, however wise, but on your own.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Three Inches.

I'm saying three inches of snow and sleet. And, friends and fans of weather, I'm going to bed while I can still hear it tick down onto the roof. A wee storm. Not much more. Beautiful all the same. More on that tomorrow.

Late Morning.

No snow yet, friends and fans of wintry mixing. But here's that low they've been promising as it gets ready to exit the Gulf:

And the forecast snow by 7 pm:

And here's an early band of something, well out in front of the storm itself:

None of that's hitting the ground yet, but this does in fact look like it could be something. Hang tight out there, Weatherheads. Any hatches you might have should probably be battened down.

Six, Twelve.

Now the fancies say six to twelve. Inches. Of snow. Here. In Greensboro. In December. Can this be so? Have I got anything here to sled on?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Storm Warning.

They seem to really think it'll snow. Some of the thems are scaling back to three to five inches, but: three to five inches is three to five inches. Even one to three is one to three. I did go to the store for milk, though, and it was busy, but not jackshit crazy. So that's the forecast, then, from the most trusted name in ANYLFery: busy, but not jackshit crazy. Keep it tuned—oh, friends and fans of weather, you know the words to this song—keep it tuned right here for the very latest.

The chimney dude wants to cut a chimney into the outbuilding tomorrow morning. I love it when a plan comes together.

Storm Watch.

From The Weather Channel:

From The National Weather Service:

Friday: Snow after 1pm. High near 35. East wind between 3 and 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Friday Night: Snow before midnight, then snow and sleet. Low around 30. North wind between 11 and 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

From WFMY:

Is it me, or is the low estimate here two inches? And then the NWS wouldn't be stunned if we saw seven? The hour-by-hour on wants us to be 23 degrees tomorrow afternoon at 2 pm. People, I do not know what to tell you, but I've told you now. Bread and milk.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snow Storm?

What? My four days of sun are now a day and a half of sun followed by fucking snow? Sorry, kids, but sometimes, when mommies and daddies take the back walls off their outbuildings because it looks like they're going to have four days in which to redo the, ah, walls, and then the National fucking Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is all, Oh, by the by, instead of dry and cool and sun, there may in fact be an inch of rain if you're lucky, but what we in fact really think is that there will be snow, why then, mommies and daddies sometimes get a little torqued off at the, ah, forecast. Which is where I now find myself beached, in that torqued-off region, in that the back wall is all but off, and there's no hope of really getting it all the way back on, and the snow seems increasingly likely. What the hell? Is it even Christmas? Solstice? It is not. It is neither of those.

Let me be clear: if it snows, I'll pull my weathery self together, and I'll like it. But here's how my building was this morning: it had four walls. Here's how it is now: it has three and a half. Siding and sheathing off the back wall, new framing in, sheathing half back up. Maybe another wall or two tomorrow, if I'm lucky. But what then? Drape a big poncho over the whole enterprise?

If there was not OutbuildingSituation2009 in progress, then I'd say that what we'd be most likely to see is drizzle and clouds and mid-thirties. But something's telling me an inch and a half of wet snow. It's damn cold out there, and it will have been cold enough to matter for several days by the time Friday afternoon pulls itself up to the trough. All of the fancies are saying the storm track is in our favor, if favor means snow indoors. Fuck and fuck, boys and girls. It's my favorite damn thing in the world, and it's three days too early. We shall see. Nobody knows. But if you let the dog out late this evening—and I did—then you know that even though it's clear as glass out there, it smells like something. It smells like several things, actually, but what it might not smell like is remodeling.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Rest.

There's wind kicking up out there, which must mean the front's coming through—this is the week of tearing the writing shed down to the studs on both sides, but saving the roof, so I confess to feeling OK about having waited for tomorrow morning to start the big exterior demo: open studs with a saved roof probably makes for a terrific sail. One thing I know for sure I want in a shed: I want it in my yard, and not down the street.

The how of all of this has had me tied up in knots, though: came close to tears yesterday thinking about the first or second of January, once the walls are back on and the stove's in, sitting in a lawn chair with a cup of coffee on the concrete slab and listening to the fire burn and warm my 209 square feet. I know how to do it all, or that part I don't know how to do I can figure out—I've just been thinking about it too long. Need to go ahead and pull it all apart so I can start putting it back together. I've been chewing on it a year. That leaves plenty of time to make good decisions, but now it's time to really go on and make them. I'm dreaming of flashing, of beveled siding, of chop saws and framing. I'm ready to go back to dreaming normal things, like debilitating fear of the world at large.

It's been almost four weeks since I worked on the new book. The inside of my head feels like it. I have to teach myself not to pause like this.

What do you want to know, Weatherheads? Do you want to know about the cold? About the four sunny days coming, and the chance of snow after that? This front that's dry here but pushing all manner of rain ahead of it down south? The coming solstice? Coffee beans? Good scotch? The notion that one full night of sleep might save us all? Or just this: the backyard steeple, which I can see from all over town, lit up in all this early dark, a strange marker, always, of where I'm meant to bed down?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Scouting Weather.

How it is not snowing right now—or why—escapes me. I know there's a fancy science reason. Or, more likely, it's a not-so-fancy reason: not cold enough. And I don't mind a morning like this—love it, even—but I would have been altogether ready and happy to wake up to snow and ice out there today.

Let's just us be happy, though, friends and fans of the change of seasons, with what we've got: camping weather. Thirty-five degrees and a steady rain. Mr. Smallwood, our old Scoutmaster, would wake us up on days like this by banging a wooden spoon against the bottom of one of the big kettles he used for boiling water and yelling, It's A Great Day For Scouting! And it was. It is. So wake up, buys and girls. Eat your Pop-Tarts. Let's get ready to break camp and move along.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cold Weather.

Hey, dark wintertime. This is the stuff. The neighborhood smells like woodsmoke. It's well below freezing. Might not have made it past 40 today. The cars don't want to turn over right at first. The dog's got about as much fur as you'd expect, which is to say, we are moving out of coyote territory and toward wolf. There's a lot of digging going on in here—on carpets, on sofas, on chairs. The dog is keen on making nests. The dog is preparing if not for hibernation then for something close to it.

No tree yet. We've got to get a tree in here, get lights on it. With no tree, how am I meant to settle for true and certain into the melancholy of the season? Hard to sit up in the childhood glow of little red and pink and green pinlights and put on music AMR won't generally let me listen to and sadsack my way through the last hour before bed if there's no tree to hang those lights on. We'll have to rectify this by the end of the weekend. Supposed to rain all day Sunday. That'd be a good day to already have the tree in here, a good day to untangle whatever lights I can pull from the attic, a good day to see what there is to be done about all of this.

I may have kicked the cold. I quit my whole damn life today and spent the day in bed. I finally got dressed at 8 pm. That, friends and fans of winter, will cure what ails you. I feel better, I think. I hope. We'll see.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mending, Hopefully.

And now it's colder. It's genuinely cold. And here's what else, friends and fans of cold, and of colds: We here at 709 remain ill. This is the illest I've been with no fever that I can remember. The Thanksgiving cold threatens to stretch into Christmas. I am considering rioting. I may riot. What I may do is go in there and light the kitchen on fire and see what happens. I have demands.

The dog is curled into the space of maybe a sofa pillow on the sick bed I've adopted here in the overheated downstairs. AMR is upstairs, drugged and hoping for sleep. If we get enough dry days in a row here in the next week or so, and if I can find my sea legs, there will be no walls and then new walls on the outbuilding. Until then, here's hoping for deep breaths. For less coughing. For health by the solstice, the bottom of the year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taken Down.

It's a hell of a lot warmer out there—I left the house late afternoon, having not been outside in a while, in far too many shirts. All that wind made me think it would be colder. It is not. It will be. But that is not what I've come here to talk to you about tonight, friends and fans of windstorms.

I've come to tell you this and this only: things blown down between here and the puppet show: most Christmas trees at most Christmas tree lots. One traffic light. Two nativity scenes.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ill Weather.

People, it rains. It rains and it rains, and here is how much: three weeks ago I bought a flat of pansies to put in the front pots. They're still in the flat. I have not watered them. No matter. They look better now, three freezes on, than when they came home from the store. It rains.

And the cold will not abate, inside or out. Outside, winter sets in, and in style. One wants for snow, instead of rain, but though one is in the minority, one will take this: one likes the kind of weather that dictates when and in what amount coffee will be coming tomorrow. Or I do, anyway. And inside, CDC-Greensboro continues its lab work. We are petri dishes in here. We are ill in the way of preschoolers. Or lab rats. We do not sleep. We know our ways around the relevant drug info on the back of something like sixteen different packages of feel-pretty. We may not last the week.

Send help. Or cough syrup. Or whiskey. When will it end? Doesn't matter: I sleep downstairs until the plague passes. Cracking a window to hear the rain hit the driveway. Could be worse. I love that sound.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Old Songs.

And when we hear/the voices sing/the book of love will open up/and let us in. Not heard often in the Mr. Mister recording sessions, I bet: Should we pull that back a little?

I can't say we're recovered around these parts, but one of us felt well enough to spool the dog through the increasingly Xmas-light-lit neighborhood, which has to be an improvement. And we cooked a meal. And here it is nearly midnight, and ANYLF is up and awake to see it. Widespread killing frost these last two mornings, enough to take out anything left that didn't belong. December. On the mend. On the freeze. Here we go.

In Did You Order The Outbuilding Windows In Time News, I may not have, but going with stock sizes at the big box may be the better of lesser evils, anyway. We shall see. Almost no matter what: Newly buttoned building, new windows and doors, new stove, new insulation by the first of the year. If not, then all of that save the windows, which should make for an interesting building, an interesting January. You thought you liked the weather before, ATP?

More rain on the way, of course. This is what it used to be like here before, I hear. I've only been here ten years. Never seen it rain like this.

I love it. I love it better now that I can breathe. As soon as I can taste coffee, then Katie bar the door, whatever the hell that means.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Weekend.

Friends and fans of weather, the Thanksgiving cold is a gift that will not stop giving, and so I tell you only this: it was gloriously cold and gray and rainy yesterday, and it was gloriously cold and clear this morning, and it is gloriously cold and graying back over now.

Fluids and medication. Medication and fluids. Got to heal up so I can get out and enjoy this.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Possible Snow.

What you need to know, friends and fans of weather, is not that it will snow, or even that it almost certainly won't, but that it could. That is what you need to know. That when you stepped out into the backyard late into the evening and thought you smelled those wet cold clouds moving through, you weren't wrong. That we may have seen a little fog earlier, and half of a shower, and that, yes, even though it was well into the forties, it's OK if you thought for a second the water on the windshield was a little syrupy.

Cold rain tomorrow. Maybe a little sleet. Maybe a little ice. Maybe a little snow. Probably not. But maybe. It may be winter. It looks like it's going to stay that way for a few days, even after the sun comes back out. Alright, then. Gloves. Plans. Sleep. Coffee. Cold.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Second?

So it's windy out there, but the problem is that it's turned warm -- it was well down into the forties this morning, and it's edging up through the sixties now. The result? Everything's wet. Every surface. Front porch, cat porch. The inside of the now-unheated now-uninsulated shed is a good fifteen degrees colder than the outside temp, and so the windows are dripping condensation. And the fancies, as of now, want snow—the non-stick kind, but still, snow—on Saturday. Welcome, friends and fans of weather, to March. The seasons of no season at all continue apace. The rain continues like we now live somewhere it rains. I do not know what to tell you. The only thing I think I know to do is thank my brother for the illness he brought to Nashville and that's now settled into this house, and hope for clearer heads and better coffee—or the ability to taste said coffee, good or bad—by tomorrow. What I do know for sure: if you were, say, battling a Thanksgiving cold, well then, this would be the weather that would help you perhaps into and then back out of it.

There is good news: the electrician says I have enough electricity to do the electric things to the shed that need doing. The roofer says he can ridge-vent the thing for a pittance. The chimneyer says he wants to do the woodstove chimney on the cheap. Tune in next time, when we'll hear our hero say: it seemed like it wasn't going to cost anything, but then we went broke.

And it didn't even really rain enough (an inch? a little more?) to know for sure whether the French drain French-drained. Oh, folly. Oh, tilting at windmills. Oh, renovations. Oh, weathers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Flood Watch.

It seems like we here on the Piedmont might know the words to this song:

That's the current (6:30 pm EST) satellite, and here's ye olde QPF for the next 24 hours:

Maximum rain value, as per our NOAA forecast: 2.75". Flood Watch until midnight on the 3rd.

People, it rains now. That's just all there is to it. This might be the last storm we ever see, and the whole of the staff here at ANYLF may well within a matter of weeks return to what we've always known best, which is drought-based complaint and concern, but for right here and now, on the heels of the second month this year where our measured rainfall exceeded our expected rainfall by more than seven inches, I think even a body like me would have to say it rains. Hey, test of the new French drain. Hey, unfixed sump pump. Hey, newly strangely (undiagnosedly) leaky front porch.

KFW, if you're listening in out there tonight, I want you to know that I saw Van Denton (a) wearing, last night on the T and V, the reddest sportcoat I've ever seen, and that (b) while wearing said coat, he said the internal pressure of this storm would be lower than that Ida thing that spun through here two weeks back. You know what, though, Weatherheads? It's the holiday season. Let's give that information away for free not just to KFW but to each and every one of you clicking in. My gift to you. Mine and Van Denton's, anyway.

If you live elsewhere, go on about your business. If you live here, though, or nearby (use the above maps if you need assistance), then hunker down.