Monday, January 31, 2011

January Resolution.

A quick evening dogwalk this last day of January offers up a kind of fog-mist hanging up in the streetlights, a damp, clothes-clinging cold, and enough lights wrapped around porches and wreaths still hung in doorways to make me not feel too badly about my own 500 blue lights still strung, if not lit, around my own windows and door. Sorry to have left the last half of last week out in the cold, as it were: We rode the Toad first west over the mountains to Nashville to meet his great-grandparents, and then rode him back east and home again, and all that left precious little time for the weather. The weather stops for no Toad, though, and I can tell you this: The ride out was cold; the ride back was not. Winter westward, then a snap spring and windows down back east, and now, tonight, home again, winter again. With something in the air. As aforementioned. The squirrel man, on his way out of the driveway: If it rains tomorrow, and it's cold like this, it ain't gonna be rain. Amen, squirrel man.

The squirrels are, we think, resolved. Pulling into the driveway tonight, the headlights brightening the building in the back corner there, I was flooded with this enormous relief, plus love for the squirrel man, who was so, so kind, and did not once chide me for my soffitry, or lack thereof. Repetitive noise, repetitive noise. Much of my life is repetitive noise. I do not do so well with repetitive noise. I had begun to dream about the squirrels getting in, chewing my spendy double doors. On the dogwalk I listened for barking dogs.

Cold tonight. Cool tomorrow, with some activity. And then mid-sixties on Wednesday? Can it be true? I don't know for sure that I believe. Highs back where they have been -- mid-forties -- by Thursday and Friday. And there's your forecast for the workweek, friends and fans of weather, and there's your January, as resolved. Small bits of weather. Doesn't have to be much. And it worked: the book drags itself along. Happy new year. Happy January. Happy February. Happy Monday. Now go outside and stand in the quiet and the lees of the stove fire and listen: That absence of sound in the ceiling is what you want, what you have been wanting all along. What comes next? Something. We just don't yet know what.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Enough Already.

All of it: rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind, cloud, clear. Fog. Mist. The steeple through the kitchen window. All of it. And none of it done.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Rain.

This was meant to be snow at one point, but it's rain, and we'll take it. That and two squirrels removed from the building. That and wood cut already for the morning. That and we're pushing eleven and the Toad sleeps and so soon will his father. Let's call that a night, shall we?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fox Urine.

The squirrel guy said it was snowing in Summerfield this morning. The church ladies over at the daycare say the snow event for later in the week will actually be rain. I've looked at no map and have no outside information and so I'll trust them each, and why not? I left the Toad with the church ladies, and the squirrel guy is about to save my life. If I'll trust the outbuilding and the boy to these people, surely I can trust the weather to them, too.

Though it did have that snow look out there when I first got up—that leaden low gray that makes you hope you've got ingredients enough in the pantry to last a day or two. We had nothing make the ground here. Do pay attention Tuesday into Wednesday—something's going to come out of the sky, they say. We just don't maybe know precisely what it'll be. The church ladies do. We here at the forecast don't. Yet.

Squirrel guy, you say? In Have Yourself A Merry Little Weekend news, I spent Friday afternoon q-tipping fox urine into the outbuilding ceiling (on the advice of said squirrel guy) in the hopes of keeping the squirrel that was digging through the ceiling and into the living space from having total success in that endeavor. Also I blared, day and night, Rock 101 The Rabid Jackal, or whatever the hell they call it. It worked. No squirrels inside. And by the end of today, here's hoping no squirrels at all. The guy showed up in a big panel van painted with cartooned woodland creatures. What's going to happen to my particular beasts is apparently not going to be so cartooned, but the guy says that's how it has to be, and I believe him. I trust him. I actually want to hug him a little, but I'm afraid it might be too soon. I am not the guy who does well with repetitive noises either of the actual or the intellectual variety, and this snugs neatly into both categories. My god I love an expert. He will save us. He will save us all.

Cold out there, friends and fans of seasonality. It's cold and it stays cold. We break forty degrees around here these days, like we did yesterday afternoon, and it feels balmy, feels like we ought to rush out and dogwalk our way around. I'm ready for daffodils, I said to the church ladies this morning. I'm ready for spring, the one of them said. Except it's time for neither of those things, is the thing. I guess we'll have to hang on a little longer.

Friday, January 21, 2011

High Wind.

I think I'm going to say that was a windstorm that pulled through around 3:45 a.m.—had to be the tail of that front that snowed and iced in the mountains and seems to have left us dry here, though I did not get myself out of bed to lay eyewitness to that account. It banged the windows in their panes and it threw things around out there, and there was something in the wind that sounded like sleet, but it did not fully wake the Toad and nothing out on the ground this morning was wet, so there you have it. There was an overnight event apparently without consequence. Or with this consequence: It is cold and freezer-dry again out there. We are cloudless and pale, pale blue. I had weekend projects in mind having to do with outdoors and building repair and etc. If this keeps up I'm going to have to buy a pair of fingerless gloves.

Cold and cold, friends and fans of weather, and getting colder as we head out of one more work week. The fancies on the T and V are already handwringing about a possible snow event early next week. As for me and my kind, I am about done with all of that, though I do feel myself menu-planning for that storm, trying to account for which and what foods will best carry me through that and towards warmer days.

The leaf trucks made their second passes through the neighborhood yesterday, and my back yard is still full of its second falling of leaves. These are the things that get missed in the era of the Toad. These are some of the things, anyway.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Long Winter.

Kindling cut, wood stacked in front of the stove, tarp over the woodpile, ice coming down in the mountains, and the smell of rain out there even though the moon's visible through the clouds. This is a weekday and I am making effort on the weekdays to tell you what the weather is. We're colder. We're damp. We're headed back for winter. It's been dark since about noon. Come on, equinox, goddamnit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


If the Toad wasn't sleeping, I'd walk him to the downtown market. When he wakes up, I may bundle him and do just that. We are not cloudless, but it makes no difference. Most of the time the sun's coming through full bore. It's 55 degrees in the shade of my front porch. This'll move wrens into the open eaves along with the squirrels. This'll push the daffodils out of the ground. This'll bloom the pansies. This'll swell the dogwood buds out there on the tree I was sure was headed for death. It's mid-January -- this January, of all Januarys -- and it's this weather. It'll be frigid again by Saturday. Get outside, get outside. Get a rake or something. Do a job. Pile things up. Move things around. Get outside.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Freezing Rain.

I somehow had forgotten—had it rained in the new year?—how pretty the neighborhood is in the rain, how good the steeple looks back there in the back yard lit up in the night, in the fog. That was what I was working on before I went to bed last night, as the rain thickened towards syrup, as the weather dropped yet one more delay upon the school system. Ice on the back deck this morning, and on the mower, the lawn chairs, what tree limbs I could see. A freezing rain rains twice: all morning long everything dripped down into the yard, down onto the driveway, as we warmed through forty degrees.

They want fifty degrees or better tomorrow. And sunshine. That should about finish off what last remaining holdouts of snow still dot the ground out there—in the shade of the trash cans, in the shade of the building, in the shade of the shade.

The sun's trailing through these kitchen windows as we work through afternoon and into evening, and the dog's making eye contact, which can mean only that she knows the sidewalks between here and the park must be mostly thawed, must be ready for even an arthritic aging coyote. It's colder out than it looks, friends and fans of weather, so be warned. Wear a hat. I got one strand of lights taken off the porch before I packed it in, came inside to think about outside. Still: Never too cold for a dogwalk. And now I've asked her what she thinks about that. And now we have to go.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Skate Away.

Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' is an album I generally reserve for the leadup to Christmas, and for later in the day, at least, but something about this set-in damp cold that's sitting down over us this noon makes it right. The Toad's on the floor, playing at rolling over and gently, gently banging his head into the underside of the coffee table. It makes him happy. He has announcements. Explanations. Scores and highlights. I have half a headache from having been up off and on since 5, when the Toad first woke up. We got him down some, but AMR ended up feeding him at six-something. There is a fog on this house. There's a haze outside. We seek equilibrium.

Classic southern winter day on track, if the fancies have it right: at some point we should be low-to-mid thirties with a pretty steady rain. The teenaged Boy Scout in me sees Bob Smallwood standing on one mile or another of the Georgia Appalachian Trail in weather much like that, hollering out, 'It's a great day for Scouting!' Do what you will with the politics of that organization, but our troop camped in weather.

The novel, the squirrels, the planning for the spring, the understanding of solid foods for babies, the daycare, the naptimes, the sleeping times—maybe if I just say these things out loud enough times, I'll understand them. Too much to ask to solve any of them just yet.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Baby Sat.

We're supposed to be warming as we head into the weekend, but that's a cold morning out there. Snow frozen hard again, ice in the driveway, and a cold, cold building. Still: I like the idea of having to warm it each morning instead of running the little through-wall all night every night. Maybe someday I'll spring for the fancy heat pump. For now: layers and kindling and a hat and firing that stove as hard as it'll go and the wee ceiling fan up there in the peak of the roof to spin it all around.

I am this morning a brand new man: AMR and I did go to dinner and the movies last night. Alone. Without the Toad. Try that one on for size, friends and fans of parenting. And a word of advice: try it on before seven and a half months. We should have done this long ago. Long, long ago. I'm happy to see the melon-headed man this morning. Don't get me wrong. I am. But I was happy not to see him last night.

Updates? The same, the same. Snow cover. Squirrels in the building. A halfassed plan about this last third of the book. This Friday is not vastly different than any other recent Friday. Weathervane on the steeple back there says the wind is coming out of the south and west. Not much cloud. Cold. Mid-January. Some kind of warmish wet thing (50 degrees?) on tap for early next week. We'll be most likely gone over your Saturday-Sunday, in keeping with the new station plan around here, but we'll see you Monday to start your work week, Gate City. Keep it buttoned up out there, and buttoned down.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Memory, Speak.

There's still snow and ice over most of the yard and already the sun is headed down again, which means not much except that the backyard sundial continues to tell its one time, which is winter. Couple that with what direction the thin light is sliding into the house from—from which the thin light is sliding into the house—and we can start to guess at o'clock, can be sure of something post-lunch and pre-cocktail. Add now, please, a child who suddenly won't much nap, and it makes for kind of a slow day here at 709, a plodding one, one that feels as though its middle's been taken out and what remains is a hazy memory of coffee and whatever's happening now.

I don't remember Christmas that well. I sure as hell don't remember the fall semester. I think I had a medium day at the desk yesterday. Today was not as good. We're out of Cheerios and juice. We have no crackers. We have barely enough diced butternut squash to carb-load the Toad for a night he only half the time sleeps through any more. We are short on beer and medium on whiskey. We have firewood. A few long-sleeve shirts are laundered and hung. We do not need anybody to come get us. We are light on supplies, but we will survive the night.

It's cold out there, and holding cold. Tomorrow we sniff at the edges of forty degrees, so they say. I could hope for that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cold Week.

Colder still out there, people. We're headed for twenty overnight, and all that ice still on the sidewalks and streetcorners will for sure and sure stay ice through at least midday tomorrow, if not a day or two more. The dogwalk was treacherous for man and beast alike. The sun was out, though, which seemed to count for something.

You know what they want for the weekend? 40s and sun. From this wee update -- still cold, clear now, still cold tomorrow, generally cold, etc -- 40s and sun seems fine, seems something to cling to.

I've broken my rule. The kindling's not cut for the morning fire. Nor is the larger wood. Already tomorrow's off to a shaky start.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Freezing Drizzle.

Cold out there, people, and socked in. Even this morning there was still some freezing drizzle. Major roads looked good, minor roads looked a little less good. As our day care wagons are hitched to the county's whims and busses, my money says we'll have the Toad home another day tomorrow. And we better use that money while it's still there: December's gas bill sorted itself back to the top of the pile today, and it appears this past December was a bit chillier than 2009's version. No money, no sunshine, no juice in the fridge. I been downhearted, baby, ever since the day you left.

Here's the Fed's take for the rest of the week, which is nearly balmy by comparison: highs of 35, 32, and 35. With sun. Don't look for too much melting in the shady spots, I guess is what I'm saying.

The squirrels are now stealing insulation from the building and carrying it to their nests up in the trees... which is I suppose preferable to bedding down in the building. Got the doctor's go-ahead this morning to work on the soffits so long as I don't do it with anything heavy. Then he told me to be careful on the snow and ice. But doctor! It hurts when I go like this! Don't do that, he said. But doctor! How will I ever make it to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, location. Out, squirrels. Steal the insulation while you can. Make those tree nests cozy. If my gas bill is going to have commas in it, then you're on your own.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Storm?

At least, boys and girls and friends and fans of snow days, it's snowing now. It was not this morning at whatever-zero o'clock when the local county suits called the day's proceedings off, and it was not at any point before now, which we'll call threeish in the afternoon, but it is in fact now snowing, and it's cold out there, so cold that damn near anything that falls seems like it'll stick straight away, so here we go. Those folks what get paid for this kind of thing want 2-4 inches of snow covered over by something between a tenth and a quarter-inch of ice. They also want the temps to hold right about where they are for the next 48 hours. It won't be apocalyptic, then, but it'll be worth keeping an eye on. We'll see if tonight's annual rib roast grunt-and-belch NCAA pigskin championship party actually happens, or if I have to eat all this beef myself.

Though it's worth noting that the fancies have been saying and saying that this thing was going to start up, and it's been holding and holding. Could be a lot of cymbal-crashing and kazooing and spraying the roads down with brine and cancellation and then end up being a good deal more drang for not so much sturm. I'm not even sure which way I want it to go. When I was a kid, I always knew. Always snow, always more. I miss that kind of fierce glowing zealous fundamental certainty.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Day.

Dropped the Toad off at the big church in the back yard: day care 9-1, MWF, on the cheap, with nice church ladies there to smile at him and call him cutiepie and say they sure hoped I wouldn't mind if they spoiled him and etcetera. Feels like a crazy luxury: writing time, bought and paid for. And I'm sorry for the 'ladies' -- if there had been church boys there, too, or churchmen, or what have you, or who, then the forecast would have had that here duly and fully noted. But there were not. There were kind ladies there to take the Toad into their sacred trust. And now the Toad is there, and we are here, staring at each other, not sure what to do. Snipe at each other some. Do the play-by-play of last night's midnight Toad meltdown. Pace the rooms. Write. Watch the clock. Wait for that big bell back there to sing its song, play its one chime.

A little weather advisory for your January Friday: maybe an inch or two of wet snow this evening and overnight, mainly along a line north of Highway Whatever. I never know what highways they mean unless it's the interstate, and it never is. It's always something like Highway 64, and then I always think Highway 64 runs north-south, and I end up spending time trying to figure out what a line north of a north-south line would look like, and by then it's already snowing, so who cares. What the suits and fancies around these parts tend to mean, I've learned, when they say 'along and north of a line...' is that we're likely to see snow here, but down in maybe Pleasant Garden or High Point or whatever else is down there -- Uwharrie? -- they'll get cold rain and some slickening of bridges. So: Along and north of a line marked by the handful of limited-access highway exits of your choosing, look for snow. If you are local to the 2740X WeatherCast, look for snow. If you are not, crack your own windows and lick your own flagpoles. Choose the divining rods that work best for you. Take a guess. Find a highway. Stand north of it. See what happens.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Medium Range.

There's a little cloud off to our far south, but mainly what we're seeing out there is a high still blue sky, a chilly day, though certainly not a cold one. There's heat in that sun even in sock feet on the back porch. Resolution: split kindling the night before. We're on day one of that. Resolution: take the dog outside more. We'll be on day one of that as soon as the morning's work comes to some manner of close. And as if on cue, the dog arrives at the back door, looking in. Resolution: pay attention to which side of the door the dog's on. We'll update progress on that one tomorrow.

The dog has a pretty full winter coat in, which is what amounts to a long-range forecast around these parts, so I'm saying that unless I see my shadow some time soon, we're in for at least six more weeks of winter. We're for sure in for a weekend of it: more than one professional outfit says we won't break 40 Saturday or Sunday. May get a little burst of something through Friday night, may squeeze a little snow out of that. We shall see. All that's a long and longer way off. For now: make sure the curtains and blinds are open on the south and west sides of the house. Let some of that good winter light and heat in. Take from January what it gives us.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gulf Low.

What we are seeing this morning, friends and fans of weather—and mustn't we all be?—is what I'm going to (probably) wrongly call outflow from a big southern low tracking give or take from coastal Mississippi to coastal whatever else comes next. That's Alabama and Florida, I think, if you'll check your dance cards. The fun and games part of this is that the fancies wanted this thing to hold just a bit further south than it seems to be doing, and the net effect of the northern jog is that we may see a snow shower this evening, and perhaps a dusting on your higher elevations, on your grassy areas. Will we get the live-from-the-salt-pile local news standups? Depends on how much other news we get.

What it means—and that's what we can offer you here at the forecast, dear readers: we make up for in synthesis and analysis what we lack in touch-screen green screens and dopplers on towers out in the yard—is that maybe if you've got the saw out, go on ahead and cut a few extra sticks. There's a little snow forecast for Friday, too. Light a big fire. Let the little wall heater take the edge off while the stove works its way to heat, which is one way to measure: some mornings the stove's enough on its own, and some mornings you need the heater, too, for that first hour. We'll see the sun break through from time to time, as it's trying to do even right now, but mainly this looks like it'll be a socked-in day, a day to start planning dinner at lunchtime.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Light.

What's out there is a kind of low-lying cold. You want a shirt over your shirt if you're going to be chopping wood. Second day of the work week, second fire. The timer just went off on the coffee, so we've been at it for however long. Right now minus four hours. Or three. I'm waiting on the building to heat, pecking at the weather report quietly so as not to disturb the morning naps: the Toad, because he is wee; AMR, because she now carries the flag of the gray death for the rest of us. The squirrels have made it all the way down the eave on the front of the building, and are now at work on projects to the right of the front door. When they fight along the back side, little bits of insulation fall out. As soon as I can hold a drill over my own head and can finish the soffit back there, it'll be time to call in some experts. Some folks with a van and a live trap. Catchy name. Vermin Vamoose. Wild N' Crazy. Some such thing. If only this were like geese, and I could hire a border collie to come in and harrass these things into the next drainage pond. Tall woman in a ranger hat, a quilted vest, a whistle, a bandannaed dog named after somebody famous. Go get 'em, Meryl Streep.

We're still close enough to solstice to where the low sun off to our south is almost under these clouds, which gives a kind of churched light to the whole proceedings out there. It is light and not light all at once.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New.

This is not a resolution. This is just to let you know that I've lit the first fire of the year, that the back yard has that heave-slush that comes after two days of fifty-degree rain and an overnight hard freeze, that the geraniums, in spite of my least efforts, continue to bloom out there on my desk in the building. This is to say that all three of us -- three, that still-oddest of numbers -- came back from Christmas sick, and that we have, on the main, recovered. This is to note that we break the first Monday of 2011 cloudless and pale blue. We expect a high in the forties. We expect dry conditions here for a few days. We may see snow on Friday. From where I sit in the kitchen, I can see the chimney on the shed. From where I sit in the kitchen, I can hear the Toad waking up. It is eleven in the morning. Probably there will be more to say.