THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 810, February 22, 2015
Serve your church, your country, your community.
your family, not by invading somebody else's
civilization, but by taking care of yourself.
It's as simple as that. It really is.
The Norseman's Diaries: Winter The Conqueror & The Doomsday Sentence
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
12 Feb 2015
So much for the idea of getting off easy—like I thought might be the case after it warmed up a little near the end of January.
Yeah it's coming back Again!
Today was the last perfect day for a while and I got a little more done. After feeding the fire a little I went up to the greenhouse and took care of the Aspidistra plants that I've been shifting from the house up to there. They were getting neglected over the winter and some of the ones like the pentantiloba & pentantiloba "Stretch Marks" got dried out and might not make it—despite their moniker that denotes toughness : Cast Iron Plant! But it's worth a try and in the greenhouse they will get watered more and the humidity will encourage them to put out new leaves if they still have some life left in their rootstocks. I repotted them and added fresh compost and pine bark fines to the mix and watered them good and set them under the shelf of the CBT enclosure.
Then I decided to divide the other plain green pentantiloba that has been a long time resident of the greenhouse along with the robust "China Star" that lives in the Florida Box turtle enclosure. Had ordered two of that one for some reason and was smart to put one in the greenhouse with the pot sunk in the ground beside the Salad Garden where was doing so well that it jumped the pot and I have a clone of it growing nearby that broke off when I lifted the original out for inspection a few months ago. But it still had a couple other growths on rootstocks that were spilling over and was crowded in the pot—so it was time. Got six new ones starting in square pots to sell once they get established. Bout time the Greenhouse starts making some money to earn its keep.
Then I watered and did a few other things. Repotted the two Smilax pumilia "Geiger's Shitful Day". These clones are named in honor of Mrs G who was watching the greenhouse in April 2007 when I was down in Apalachicola. Actually I was still staying in Panacea that year and had just discovered the real charm and convenience of the other town. I made a phone call right after I collected two offsets of the Smilax. When I asked Geiger how the weather was back home in PA ; "Shitful"! she spat harshly. Probably cold and dreary with a rain / snow mix. It was still unseasonably chilly the remainder of my vacation when I returned home. Anyway that was how I got the name.
Still felt relatively mild when I went back out to feed the furnace. Upper 30s. Like most Norseman's Hells—it's hard to believe it's coming. I covered the palmettos in front of the greenhouse again. Wish I had something to protect the ones by the cellar door. They may burn at minus 5.
Feeling pretty good now. Going to try to stay on top of things with the coming cold. Keep the furnace well fed and see if it can keep up. Might have to endure a little chill but it will moderate when the cold wave passes next week.
13 Feb 02:56 AM
Came home to just coals and a somewhat chilly house—66 F despite loading up good late morning. Outside it dropped to 11 by dinner time and was about 7 when I it home around 01:30. Tarrying to to watch videos didn't help either.
Switched over to oil heat to let the system catch up. Will check garage and turts when I go back down to switch back"!
Survived the frigid night with flying colors. Running the oil furnace for a few hours allowed the outside furnace to catch up but barely. It was reading 70 in the living room for a while. Now slipped to 69 and upstairs I can feel a slight chill in the air.
Outside it is slow to recover. Approaching noon and still only 9 degrees.
Was out earlier to put a couple more logs in the firebox and visit the greenhouse where I rescued some air plants I put in the water to soak overnight midweek and forgot to get yesterday morning. Had to force the door open and then thaw the latch by pouring water over it to close it again. Watered the plants. Put more air plants and orchids in the pond. Will be going back to take them put soon.
Decided today is the day to get moving on plant orders. Already sent off the order for Voodoo Lilies and other stuff to B&B's yesterday and delayed the PDN order till payday next week. I just ordered Chinese Ground Orchids and Egret Flower from the Wild Orchid CO and am in the process of preparing the one for Woodlanders to get a few things for the GH and Gulf Coast Box Turtle pens.
Now to head back to the GH and see if I can exhume some surviving bulbs of Bartram's Ixia before ordering another one. Hoping maybe I still have the Fall Blooming Ixia too.
14 Feb 08:00 AM
Happy Valentines Day.
14 Feb 10:46 PM
It's bad! My thoughts as I leave work late that evening.
15 Feb—Sometime in the morning before work.
Was down to 61 in the living room last night. At least it did not loose anymore ground. But the cold floors and chill in the air bring back childhood memories of electric blankets we used on cold nights when the heating system struggled to keep up.
History seems to be repeating itself. An economy like the 1970s is not bad enough, the winters have turned ugly again too. All across the nation records set back then—and in some cases even as far back as the 1800s are being tied or shattered. Especially here in the northeast which is under the onslaught of a core of frigid arctic air centered just below Hudson Bay. And it's influence is felt as far south as Florida with people shivering in the 30s in Orlando. The teens in Atlanta Georgia. It's even storming the doorstep of West America from Colorado to Idaho. Thousands are without power in some places. There have been deaths attributed to this polar outbreak. People are not used to the severe cold weather—especially in the South where they are not normally prepared to deal with snow or icy conditions. Down there they are less adept at winter driving and snow removal.
I am familiar with that contrast having lived in both Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. In Virginia they would cancel school at the drop of a hat—over just a little bit of snow. When we moved up here I could not understand at first why they wouldn't cancel school when it was so much worse and was surprised during some of the severe winters of 77 & 78 when they did cancel or delay classes on the account of frigid temps or bad road conditions.
As for the current situation—it continues to suck. Very worrisome with the prospect of being away for more than 12 hours—fast as my furnace will consume wood in this weather.
Nuke the Polar Bears & the Penguins too!
Maybe time to call for a little help!
16 Feb 03:00 PM
Bruce probably saved my fire from going out and kept the house from going under.
It was in the single digits all day and 3 below when I was leaving for home. No excessive You Tube watching but I did do a couple waiting for the engine to warm up. Tire pressure light was on—my guess it is because air contracts and takes up less volume in this extreme cold.
Still had some logs in the firebox and Bruce did not use all the logs I threw up onto the pad. He shoveled out some excess ash and had put in coal plus left me 3 more bags. I used part of one of those on top of the logs when I loaded up. It looks like good stuff which he said it was. Soon as I get caught up I plan on getting some to use in the spring for supplemental heat when I want to warm up the radiators on the greenhouse on chilly cloudy days. That's always nice for warming up a galvanized tub of water for the plants or to lay coats on while working inside!
Coming into the house it felt like heaven and I was surprised to find it was only 64 degrees! Which is still way better than minus 3! And it slipped to 61 by morning. I went out before breakfast and reloaded with wood only and then bled the pipes and the individual radiators. Only slight improvement. Has been struggling between 61 and 62 all morning. Found major air leakage around the cardboard I taped over the window above the AC unit when the twin wall poly panel had gotten brittle and fell apart. Have to replace but retaped it again for now. Might try bleeding the plumbing again but probably just need the outside temp to rise more because the boiler is keeping up but the house is loosing heat under such a frigid regime. At noon it was still only about 10 degrees.
Supposed to go to 19 today but that is slow in coming and it is cloudy so the greenhouse that I need to check out is going to be chilly. Have been holding off on that because I don't like to force the door open and risk breaking something or the latch getting froze and having to prop the door closed from the outside like I did a few days last year. If there was sun—it would be warm enough inside to thaw it. Probably not going to happen today.
I did also check on the chickens and give them more feed and some scratch. Glad I took care of their water right before the onset of Hell—because there is still plenty in there and I might not have to mess with it until the cold snap ends.
Looks like it will hang on until the weekend. There is also the likelihood of more snow with the storm passing across the south. Predictions were in the 8 to 12 inch range last night but its looking like 3 to 6 now. Debating on clearing off my lane or waiting until it is over tomorrow since I don't have to go out again until Wednesday and I'm leaning toward waiting. Was able to push my way in last night using Bruce's tracks. He has 4 wheel drive and can get in and out without much trouble.
Went and bled the baseboard plumbing a second time. Not much air that time so maybe its a matter of catching up again. May have to just ride it out for a while until the weather gets better. Going to have to go to the greenhouse and see how things are going there. Make sure the plants are not drying out since the propane heater has been blowing a lot. Need to check the gauge on the tank too and make sure that is not getting low. Barely made it thru last winter but it is probably ok.
Kind of in survival mode now. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Long range forecast has a return of milder weather with 50 degree days going into March which is little more than a week away! And that place with the Iris gracillipes and other interesting species iris has their new catalog which came out on Valentine's Day as promised. Going to place my order this pay.
Going to have to get to the greenhouse and try to get the door open without breaking anything. It's getting late and conditions are not getting better.
17 Feb 10:30 AM
Under the heel of Norseman's Hell again—what else is there to do after making sure you are warm and safe—than to dream and plan for when it is finally over. Have to get some more order forms filled out and a final wish list together. Can probably order the irises this week and start knocking off a few other things in March. Then it will be concentrating on getting my gravel and sand and firewood stockpile and hardware to finish turtle pens. And the two stock tanks to go with the two extra drains!
Funny thing—this winter feels a lot like the one in 96 except instead of a blizzard and 3 feet of snow we got a deep cold snap. And like then my thoughts are on what the coming year will bring. It was the time I decided to shift from keeping tropical plants and turts in the Florida Room to getting back into outdoor plants and the pond.
This year it is a fresh start on the best of everything in a totally new direction that recaptures a lot of the essence of yesterday's dreams with the ponds, gardens and greenhouse and the entire property being reclaimed and re shaped.
It was another frigid start with the house slipping down a bit overnight. Yet the boiler is not apparently the problem as the blower on outside furnace has been shutting off meaning the temp is at 180. I bled the plumbing in the house again this morning after reloading and switched to the oil furnace for a while. Slowly but way quicker than yesterday the living room temperature has started to rebound so I switched back again to conserve oil.
Not sure what is going on. Is it a problem in the lines—especially the fin tube heaters downstairs which is always cooler in comparison to upstairs where it is warmer. 74 vs 68 or lower. Then there is a good bit more infiltration of cold air into the cellar and other places plus the frigid conditions outside. It's hard to tell. Right now I just hope this onslaught ends and things get back to normal for the rest of the winter. Another month to get thru. In time I hope to make incremental improvements.
At least the sun has finally returned. Forlorn looking outside but worth a trip to the greenhouse where I might spend a few hours before it falls onto shadow again.
17 Feb 05:30 PM
Late afternoon in the greenhouse went well.
Soon it will be time to take the Ishigame trio out of hibernation. One more week. They are currently sitting inside the cellar against the door to the garage where it is cold and dark. They were quiescent when I checked them this evening after dinner and other evening chores. Also checked on the fish that remained in the garage. The big Dollar Sunfish has ice over the water but still ok. The bucket with the young Bluespotts needed to be moved. There was several inches of ice on top with live fish imprisoned within. Never saw such a thing in all my years but they were in little pockets of water within the ice and were responding to external stimuli! My guess—water movement from their fin motion and tiny amount of body heat—even a cold blooded organism generates some from cellular respiration—kept the ice at bay and I may have gotten them just in time.
Now the bad news. It looks like all the baby Blackbanded Sunfish that I moved early on in the cold snap are dead—laying on their sides on the bottom of the bucket. Obummer what a bummer! Yet the parents are fine. Hopefully I can squeeze another spawn out of them this season. Was already thinking of trying Ray's method of keeping them cold and just shifting back outside to a Rubbermaid in a few weeks when the likelihood of the tub freezing up is less an issue. By fall I hope to have indoor tanks set up for every species. A must now that many fishes that could winter over in outdoor ponds in years past no longer fare so well. And the plan to hibernate them in the garage is not working out so well.
Ray suggested the baby Blackbandeds might just be comatose from the cold but they are dead.
Glad I took the trouble to sweep out the driveway last night because time grows short again. The furnace kept up easily this time now that it caught up. Coal and higher temps outside are helping.
One more bout of Norseman's Hell and then a moderating trend next week.
18 Feb 11:32 PM
It was one of those days again—worrying about what I might find when I got home this evening with yet another round of Norseman's Hell in the process of descending upon Greater Appalachia. After having loaded my furnace in a quick kind of half assed fashion on my hurried departure for work. Did not pack it as full as maybe I should have but did add a few shovels of coal. Road conditions were also a concern as it was snowing through the day.
Luckily I got to leave two hours early. Did not tarry like I usually do—just long enough to warm the car up while brushing off a couple inches and hit the road. Stopped to fill up on the way out of town. The roads were not too bad as the snow ended late afternoon and the ploughs and salt trucks had time to do their stuff, so I decided to chance it going my usual way home. Some slippery spots but no major problems—not even Snake Hill or the flats above Kecksburg at the confluence of Meteor Road where drifting snow is often a concern. I almost got stuck there last winter after spinning my way up the hill! It was slow but smooth sailing the whole way home.
The roads in my township were cleaned off and the snowfall amount was not too much. Went ahead and pushed my way in to my place and will worry about clearing the snow off later. The furnace which is always the first thing I see when I pull in was in idling mode with the blower shut off. Not much left but plenty of coals. Reloaded and put a few scoops of coal on top. I think the stuff Bruce brought me on Sunday is pretty good quality and I'd like to get more. Will be interesting to see how it goes next two days—minus 1 tonite and 8 tomorrow and a low of minus 13 on Friday morn. That's about as bad as 1994! Starting to look like Robert Felix and others may be right! So far the house is keeping up with flying colors. Got my fingers crossed.
Warm and comfy in my bed and payday approaches. Now that I'm caught up—I have some orders made out for some interesting plants and I may order a dozen more escambiae and the bantam sunfishes from Zimmerman's and see if I can get that tank too. If the latter is a go I will probably run out to Ohio pick the fish up there. Most likely in a few weeks when the weather improves.
Was going to go out and sweep the driveway but so tired now. Might as well get to bed earlier and get a good rest and brave the cold in the morning.
19 Feb 07:14 AM
Around 5:30 I got up to go to the bathroom. Felt a chill as I descended the stairs to the living room. It had dropped 2 degrees from the set temperature of 68 to 66. Outside temp 7 degrees. Here we go again. Hell has returned!
Upstairs it is still a comfy 72. Obviously the frigid weather has much to do with it. But I'm thinking there is more infiltration of cold air downstairs. Especially from the cellar. If the outside door were reset to close better; that would help. The previous night I talked with Bruce about a plan to bypass the heat exchanger with a series of valves to run either system separately on different thermostats and eliminate heat loss a number of ways. A project for the summer.
As for now—the struggle to keep my head above water next two days begins. It's daylight—a little past 7 so time to go out and clear off the turnaround and the end of the lane so I can get out of here this morning. Then off to the bank on the way to work to get updated on my checking account and probably might as well grab breakfast then instead of eating here.
I loathe the idea of going outside but I must.
Back in after warming up the car while sweeping and shoveling. Got the driveway and turnaround cleaned off. Skimped a little on parts of it—just clearing out around my tracks to save time and effort. Just so I can get in and out.
Have not looked in the firebox yet but still have fuel because I smell the coal and its still smoking. And even idling so I have a strong suspicion my problem is not there but in the distribution system or it's infiltration of cold air that is making the downstairs remarkably cooler than upstairs where it remains toasty in the low 70s. Maybe a combination of both—which manifests during extreme frigid weather when the system is stretched to the limit.
It is 66 degrees in the living room. Outside temperature at 9A is about 7. Will be minus 11 tonite and only 11 above tomorrow. Guess that's a little better than minus 13. I think I'll manage to maintain livable conditions for the next two days until Norseman's Hell abates. Loribelle put me on call until 3 so I can load my furnace a little later in the day and that will help. Need to get another load of wood soon.
This weekend I'm going to try to troubleshoot the system again and see if it is an issue with the baseboard lines going thru the downstairs areas.
Now to grab breakfast and then make a run out to do banking and maybe a haircut now that I have a little extra time. And do my numbers and see what I'm good for this pay. I'll knock out some plant orders and put some like the Plant Delights order on the back burner. That one I might be able to cut down as I've found some of the items elsewhere for less.
Posted a comment on the Ice Age Now site.
Today is of course payday and as usual it was a busy affair between cleaning off driveways and then settling my finances. Had to run out to the bank to find out how much I got paid. Then back home to write checks for bills and a couple plant orders. Set aside a check for the load of wood I need. The big one was my car payment and then insurance. Had to run by the package store for stamps and then the Allstate office on the way to work. It was then passing the lake I noticed the ice fishermen.
That was a common sight back in the 70s. We used to walk across the lake all the time. Then the winters got milder for a while and there were years when the ice would have been unsafe and some with very little or none at all. Now the cold has returned with a vengeance. That cold air mass that is hanging on over Hudson Bay looks very much like the weather maps from back in the day. Again Ray was right—they are still tying and breaking the records from those days.
Then again who knows. With all the uncertainties of bad or biased record keeping—especially the fudging of data and putting thermometers in baking hot urban microclimates—now accurate are the records. Even the forecast on my phone these past few days has been off by quite a few degrees! Most of the time it was slightly warmer here than in town. And warmer on the back porch than on the back of the greenhouse. Goes to show how easy it is to stack the deck by selectively including or excluding monitoring stations or moving them around at the same site!
So much for the notion of getting off easy this winter or the idea that ice fishing on Greenlick Lake might be a thing of the past; let alone snow. The purveyors of gloom and doom seem to have a notorious track record for jumping to conclusions. But they persist. There is an agenda at stake as it is also well known that those who profess a desire to save the world also aspire to rule it. And those looking for a free ride are all too willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when they get it wrong.
It must be nice to be too big to fail.
It was minus 3 before I left work at 11P last night.
Called Keslar's. They can't deliver until Monday and the wood supply is getting low. Actually I probably have enough to get thru the weekend and then my stockpile of seasoned wood to fall back on and I can always cut up treetops if I must. Might be able to do some of that over the weekend when it warms up.
Then it gets cold again on Monday. When I found that our I nearly went postal. The arctic air is hanging on like a bulldog and Ive made some pretty nasty statements to the chagrin of dog lovers I know. Could be the worst thing I've said since comments about locking Frosty The Snowman in my greenhouse and using him to water the plants!
The return of 70s type winters has reminded me of yet another reason I'd like to forsake the planet Earth. It would be nice to live in a space habitat where you can control the climate by manipulating the thermal balance of the structure. That in addition to being physically isolated from Earth and its problems. Some think it is a sin to even talk about going out there—but I usually dismiss such objections from killjoys who think they are entitled to force someone else to share in their misery. Which in many cases is self-inflicted. What else can can I say about people who want to shut down power plants and stop an oil pipeline in a day and age when we may be entering another Little Ice Age—on top of dangerous geopolitical instability in the Middle East that is looking more and more like the birth pangs of World War 3!
Proof positive that environmentalists are both treasonous and insane. They don't care about the unintended consequences of their policies that weaken our ability to cope with existential dangers like extreme cold or vulnerability to foreign enemies. Which are more dangerous than the bugaboos of their pet issues. We can adapt to climate change—which we have to do anyways because its going to change regardless of what we do.
Feeling better now that I said that and the heater is warming up my room. Will just get dressed in an extra layer and have a hot breakfast and spend the afternoon in the greenhouse which should be warm with the sun shining.
Spirits lifted after an afternoon in the greenhouse.
Spent a couple hours watering, inspecting and repotting things. Nice to have this little oasis to go to on a day like this. Looking forward to the coming weeks as other things continue to wake up including the trio of Japanese Pond Turtles that are still holding in their containers inside the cellar—waiting to go back out to the garage. If it keeps on like this they might end up going strait to their enclosure in the greenhouse. Following the weather in Kyoto—which is at the same latitude as a site where two herpetologists from Nagoya university did a field study on the species—the temperatures there are now getting into the 50 and 60 degree range.
It's almost time!
One more night of Hell and a brief reprieve over the weekend before another onslaught of polar air. Maybe not as bad as the current one but still too soon to say how bad it will be. I'm hesitant to go to press with the Norseman's Diary at least until I get through the coming night. Current outside temp is 13 after a high of 19 and the protected overnight low is 4 above.
21 Feb 10:55 AM
Survived the night. Don't know what the actual low turned out to be but when I went down to the bathroom earlier the kitchen floor felt cold again. But the outside temp was already up to 25 and it was snowing. After a few hours of editing the Norseman's Diary I went down again and put hash browns in the microwave to thaw and noted it was much warmer both inside and out. The rhododendron leaves which have been rolled up tight for days have finally unfurled and the floor was more comfortable to walk barefoot. The reading on the digital thermostat in the living room was at 66. Two more degrees to catch up with the set temperature. Upstairs it is 72.
Remote sensor reading on the back side of the greenhouse is now at the freezing mark—32 degrees. Of course with the rise in temperature comes increased precipitation. A couple inches so far. And of course the last forecast I looked at has Norseman's Hell coming back for yet another round—though not as severe (we can only hope) as the previous ones.
Really looking forward to the first 50 degree days promised in the week to follow—which is around the beginning of March.
As Winter The Conquerer is finally booted back to the North Pole where he belongs and the Doomsday Sentence is lifted.
The title is sort of a play on William the Conquerer & The Doomsday Census—for those who recall England's medieval history. It was the classic case of the barbarian invader who becomes the nation he conquers in the fashion of the Germanic chieftains who took over the western half of the Roman Empire or Genghis Khan who established himself on the throne of China. William is infamous for his Doomsday Census—a tax he imposed on the people of England which I remember some pictures of the tax collectors carting off the household goods of the common folk. Something to think about when someone pontificates about the joys of government and the virtue of taxes. It also brings back memories of my mother telling me that in Virginia they paid a tax on furniture and other household goods. That barbaric influence of colonial British rule lives to this day in a state where the counties themselves are named after kings, queens and princes and in addition to state vehicle registration there are also county tags!
No wonder the English called it the Doomsday Census!
Bad as it is I'm lucky I don't have to venture onto the rooftop of Greater Appalachia for a winter adventure like last year in my desperate gambit to get a replacement pump for the furnace. But as far as the adventure part of it is concerned—lately it's been looking a lot like the Back of Beyond right here. Don't even want to think about what it is like up there!
The Texas Palmettos by the cellar door are probably toast as far as above ground tissue is concerned. They will surely recover and replace their foliage this season as they have been in the ground many years. But the prospect of long term survival is uncertain if this climatic trend continues. After barely recovering from last winter—the lovely Camelia tree that put up three little shoots late last summer is probably a goner for sure. At least it had a really glorious last bloom in the Fall of 13.
Many thanks for Bruce the Historian who helped me keep head above water last Sunday coming over to load my furnace while I was at work and leaving me 3 bags of coal which got me through a few more frigid nights and long days at work. He only had to come over that one time and I survived the week in Norseman's Hell with almost flying colors.
Get a 4 ton load that ought to last a couple years dumped on my pad like I've done a few times since I put in the outdoor furnace. Looks pretty impressive and would likely make a few environmentalists hysterical to see me standing on a big chunky heap of carbon with sledge hammer in hand!
That was always a dirty job but fun!
So much for that prediction too!
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