Monthly Archives: February 2014

Another end of the world deadline has passed

The Mayan calendar “ending” in December 2012 passed by quietly. So did the “Y2K” debacle, which was much ado about nothing. OK, there was the “IT professional” fool about 45 miles east of the Twin Cities who spent tens of thousands of dollars building and stocking a doomsday bunker. The economy did need some stimulation, and a fool and his money were soon parted.

This time around, it was supposedly Ragnarök, a Norse apocalyptic fable which tells how nearly all the major gods, including Odin, perish in a fierce battle along with the destruction of Earth and the nine realms. This was to have happened yesterday, February 22. The date seems to have conveniently coincided with a Nordic festival. One of the harbingers of Ragnarök is the three-year winter called “Fimbulvetr”. OK, this winter has seemed three years long and as of this writing it is showing few signs of relenting, but it’s not “end of the world” magnitude yet.

Fascination with end of days predictions are prevalent throughout recorded history. Perhaps times of uncertainty and unrest see a marked increase in doomsday prophecies. The Cold War nuclear arsenals stocked on either side could supposedly eradicate all unprotected humans on Earth dozens to hundreds of times over. Religious prophecies have a common theme of a great battle destroying Earth and humanity followed by a gradual rebirth and perpetual peace (or ascension into eternal peace without the rebirth). It would be nice to achieve some form of Utopia without losing billions of lives and destroying Earth along the way.

Trying to influence the unknown is a risky venture. Missing a variable may actually make the situation worse. Many religious teachings and philosophical writings indicate we will never fully know the future nor will we know the exact date and time of the “end of days”. Physicists believe the universe as we know it will exist for another 101,000 years even though humanity is not around to test the theory, and thus we will never know with any degree of certainty. Perhaps we should focus on trying to influence the present.

Start influencing the present by giving your loved ones a meaningful hug. If you are fortunate to have a special someone, let that person know you love her or him. Love has a way of settling the unsettled. Here’s hoping winter retreats quickly and Fimbulvetr averts for another year…or millennium.

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Filed under philosophy, rebuilding

A tease before the freeze

Winter still has the Twin Cities in a frozen grip, but Spring is sneaking in a cameo appearance. Yesterday was the warmest day since the end of November and today is forecast as warmer than normal. Heavy snow, with amounts ranging from 3 – 12 inches, and strong winds tomorrow give way to steadily falling temperatures. Some of the forecasts are hinting at another prolonged cold snap, albeit not as severe as the previous one, but with a few more below zero lows. March 20th will not arrive quickly enough, although we all know Mother Nature does not read calendars very well.

People in this area know how to make the most of these brief breaks from Arctic domination. Perhaps it is a throwback to the agrarian history of the Midwest, but “making hay while the sun shines” is appropriate. Street crews actually tried removing snow from curb to curb rather than leaving the usual two feet or more unplowed. Highway crews attempted fixing the most serious potholes, but the snowplows will destroy those patches removing Thursday’s slop. Car washes had their usual long lines, and the melting snow running across the streets immediately gave those freshly scrubbed cars a mottled gray and brown appearance. The local ski sites and hiking trails stayed filled with people enjoying actual sunlight and fresh air, and ice fishing seemed very popular. Snow forts and snowmen appeared breaking up the boring landscape. The only down side was many places quickly sold out of windshield washer fluid.

Perhaps some of the activities seemed futile, but perhaps the extended harshness of this winter has people jaded and cynical. It takes several days of driving in slush to cover a car in gray grime. Widening the streets is important for allowing emergency vehicles adequate room for maneuvering and for on street parking. Even temporarily fixing the potholes prevents flat tires or accidents which in turn keeps the traffic flow moving better; public works departments have to justify those tax increases somehow. A sunny warm day definitely improves people’s moods. I saw a marked decrease in drivers using rude gestures, and people were willing to have conversations rather than exchanging grunts and muttering. I am going to miss the nice weather. It was nice having a couple of days where the snow thrower could remain unused, the furnace was not running frequently, and I didn’t need analgesics and heating pads to relieve muscle strain.

Live Life Happy has the best quote times like this:

This too, shall pass.
When things are bad, remember: It won’t always be this way. Take one day at a time.
When things are good, remember: It won’t always be this way. Enjoy every great moment.

Enjoy a great moment by giving your special someone a meaningful hug. Since great moments are fleeting, go ahead and enjoy a second one, too. Spend time with a friend and see how it brightens the day for both of you. If you’ll excuse me, I’m getting outside to enjoy this wonderful break from winter before the Arctic sends another frigid blast my way. Now where are my sunglasses?

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Forty days and forty nights

Forty days and forty nights can seem an eternity. Many religious works have a number of “forty days and forty nights” events, with few of them pleasant; many centered on sacrifice, suffering, and destruction. The Twin Cities has endured slightly over forty days and forty nights of below zero (Fahrenheit) weather this winter, but we have not cracked the top ten for years with the most sub-zero temperatures. Today was day 43 and it is hopefully our last for at least the next ten days.

As a gardener, my worry is the severity and duration of our unseasonable weather will result in serious winter kill in the gardens. For all intents and purposes, my area went from USDA Growing Zone 4 to USDA Growing Zone 2. I have mulch in all the gardens and we had sufficient rainfall before the ground froze. That should help, but will it be enough?

As a homeowner, I worry that the frost line will get deep enough to cause frozen pipes. That is happening in other places, and I have a friend who mentioned on Facebook that the going rate to thaw pipes in her town is $200.00 per hour. I have been in my house for fifteen years, and I do not remember a winter with this many below zero days. A natural gas shortage is causing problems for some homeowners in rural parts of the Midwest even if they can afford the nearly 400% price increase. The National Weather Service tells us this is the coldest we have seen for over thirty years. We heard that the weather and climate have been steadily growing warmer for decades or centuries depending on which study one reads, so perhaps we got complacent. Maybe we solved Anthropogenic Catastrophic Climate Change and the earth is back to normal?

After our eighteen consecutive days of going below zero, we may finally start seeing temperatures approaching normal. When the temperature starts rising, people will emerge from their homes much like a creature emerging from its winter shelter, blinking because of the sunlight, smelling the fresh air rather than the mostly recirculated air in a sealed house, and shuffling off to forage and frolic. I hope these folks do not act like a bear in the woods.Valentine’s Day is Friday. It used to be known as St. Valentine’s Day, but the religious reference faded a number of years ago. Lucy’s ancestors came from Finland, where Valentine’s Day was known as “Ystävänpäivä”, or “Day of Friendship”. Lucy was my best and closest friend, so it made perfect sense. I’m fortunate to have some wonderful friends for my Day of Friendship.

If you are buying flowers for Valentine’s Day or Day of Friendship, buy them from a local florist rather than an online service. On top of getting  a superior product, you are supporting your community, and it shows you took the time to get the right bouquet. Take a moment to be thankful for your friends, whether they are near, distant, or departed. Friends help friends through forty day and forty night challenges, and can brighten even the darkest and stormiest of nights. As always, give your special someone a meaningful hug. Here’s hoping we get forty days and forty nights of warmer weather!

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Filed under friends, gardening, rebuilding, weather

Happy birthday, Lucy 2014

Please take a moment to remember Lucy on her birthday.

Getting to her resting place was a bit challenging. They plowed the cemetery driveway, of course, but in the process of plowing, but they accidentally filled in the two foot wide path I shoveled with a five foot tall by five foot deep pile of hardened snow. Today was much colder than normal with a slight breeze. Of course, even a gentle breeze in single digit temperatures creates double-digit below zero wind chill.

Thank you for the love and support you gave to Lucy during her cancer battle. Thank you for remembering her and keeping her memory alive. Give your special someone a meaningful hug and cherish the time you have with that person.

Heart for Lucy

I wired the heart to Lucy’s Christmas wreath today.

Digging through a 5 foot drift

The cemetery plowed the driveway, but clogged the path I had shoveled. It was piled about five feet high and about five feet deep.

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