When everything is frozen.
We got hit with some CUH-RAZY weather the last couple of weeks, after an unusually mild winter. I was feeling pretty pleased at not having to contend with anything exceptionally brutal my first winter in the stupid tin can, but Mother Nature showed us! After nearly two weeks of below zero temperatures, both day and night, and days/nights on end of endless winds ranging from 50-90 KMs an hour, everything froze. And I do mean everything. The water was the first to go – the first day it froze, my drinking water hose committed suicide, and I was forced to to go buy an ungodly expensive heated water line (still paying that off, actually). I was apparently not the only one caught off guard, as it was the last one in stock. By the time I got it hooked up, it was too late… the water lines in my trailer had frozen. Then the underground waterline froze. You have no idea how much water you go through every day until you’re using bottles you have to fill up at your neighbour’s place every other day.
You also have to be super cognizant of how much of that bottled water you’re emptying into your grey water tanks when they are frozen/frozen shut and you have no means of emptying them. And speaking of emptying … black water tank frozen too. Enough said.
The first night of the bad windstorms, two panels of my poultry shed blew right off the frame. My poor, tropically-inclined Mexican stepdad had to come out and brave the tundra winds to fix the shed so my birds didn’t freeze. We then stuffed the whole shed with straw up to their eyeballs in an effort to keep them warm. Turns out bales of straw expand a LOT when you untie them, so the second bale of straw was somewhat superfluous. We put up boards all around the underside of the trailer in a (as it turns out) wishful attempt to insulate the underneath and used the extra straw bale to close one of the gaps. The gap that happened to be at the intake and outtake flow of the furnace. Which, as it turns out, gets really, really hot. And straw bales and heat aren’t super good friends, so it caught on fire. Which is a cool thing to see happen when you have no running water.
Which makes you paranoid forever after about running the furnace, so you don’t turn it on at night. So when your power goes out because of the wind, so does your space heater. And when you get up in the morning and can see your breath in your living room, and you try to put your shoes on to take the dogs out only to find that your shoes are frozen to the floor, you realize that you pretty much hate everything that ever existed.
And then it snowed.
In some places there is no snow, and in others, the drifts are over 3 feet high. The poor poultry exit their house every morning and stare at a wall of snow, which confuses and depresses them. Addy faces a similar wall of snow when I force her to go outside to pee, which confuses and depresses her. Actually it doesn’t depress her, she’s irrepressible. But she sure doesn’t like it. I think I’m not going to like it when it melts. I just hope it does it slowly, or we’re all gonna drown.
At least the snow managed to time itself around some important big commutes I had to make the last couple of weeks, and didn’t interfere with my ability to travel into The City. Dexter and I have this job we do from time to time, where we go to casting calls for tv commercials and Dexter (and sometimes Maisie) spend the day interacting with actors auditioning for parts in which they would have to interact with a dog in the actual commercial. This way the casting director can see if the actors are actually comfortable with dogs. It’s actually a pretty fun way to spend a day or two – the dogs get a million pats and hugs and snuggles and cookies, and I get paid money. And then sometimes the director likes my dog so much he gets a part in the commercial too, which is what happened to Dex, so last week we went and he “acted” and I “animal wrangled” him, for which I also get paid. I didn’t ask if I was allowed to share what he’s in or doing, so I won’t, but if I ever happen to see the commercial once it airs, I will post it on the blog! All I can say is that he got to do one of his favourite things ever, and he didn’t get yelled at to STOP THAT!! for it while he did it, so he was in heaven!
I wasn’t even sure he was going to be able to do the commercial for a minute there, because in the days in between, he suddenly LOST HIS MIND. He was FRANTIC, couldn’t lay down for more than a few seconds; he’d spring to his feet and start racing around the ‘house’ and then stop and scratch frantically. He’d leap up and race down the hallway to the bedroom and back, was scared of the dog beds, was falling asleep standing up in between bouts of being frantic and he did it ALL NIGHT LONG. None of us got any sleep. The next day, driving to our hike, he was exactly the same except he was seatbelted in the front seat and couldn’t go anywhere, so he thrashed around and kicked the dashboard and flung himself from side to side. It was extremely unnerving. When we got home that evening, I checked him over and discovered this terrible, awful rash across his shoulders and under his armpits. I washed them, and slathered them in a cortisone spray, then put him on an old t-shirt so he couldn’t scratch and watched as he visibly calmed down and finally fell asleep. I realized that the rash was in the exact place his seatbelt harness sits – he hasn’t worn it since, and it hasn’t happened again. I don’t know why he is suddenly reacting to the harness he has been wearing forever, but I’m just glad he is back to normal. “Normal” being a relative term, when it comes to Dexter. Or any of my dogs, really.
The dogs don’t seem to care whether it’s snowy or not (Addy being the very notable exception – when it’s time to go potty, her thrusters engage and she goes into warp drive, flies down the stairs, skids into her snow-free spot in a 90 degree corner where the wind is at its weakest, and empties her bladder like someone turned the valves on a geyser, and is back in the trailer and in her sleepy sack before you can blink. I’m actually surprised she can pee at all; she clenches so hard that she runs around basically on her front legs.
I don’t think Maisie has seen snow before, given her age, but it didn’t give her pause at all. She was in it up to her eyeballs without a second of hesitation. There was just one night when I let her out to pee and the gale force winds just blew her right back inside. She eyeballed the doorway for a second, and decided she didn’t have to go that bad after all. But other than that, it seems the snow is just one more thing for her to revel in. She really is a lot of fun!
At our most recent casting call gig, I brought her out of the van to pee before bringing her inside, and a homeless guy lurched at her and tried to grab her (dude appeared outta nowhere! He must have been a ninja) and that was it for her for the day – everyone was terrifying, she couldn’t relax in the building at all (everyone clumping down the hallway in their snowboots scared the bejesus out of her) and I realize that living out here in the sticks means she’s not socializing enough in unfamiliar locations. She is super comfortable in the middle of a trial in the building, because I bring her there all the time for that purpose, but the Big City streets are something else altogether. So something we need to work on.
The snow has now mostly frozen, so everyone is skipping lightly across it rather than plowing through it.
But periodically there is a soft spot under the crust and a dog disappears for a second. Yesterday Maisie sliced up her carpal pad in the icesnow, so after playtime I wrapped it in cotton and then covered it in vet wrap to prevent her from bleeding all over my furniture. The vet wrap is the kind that tastes bad when they try to chew it off, but there as an *itty bitty* piece of cotton sticking out from under it, which she made diligent efforts to remove by unraveling it … I would hear her chewing at it and look over the top of my computer screen and she would make eye contact with me, with a cotton string in her mouth … she’d slowly lower her head until her chin covered her whole bandaged foot, then she would blink at me innocently, like she hadn’t been doing anything. She’s so funny. And smart as a whip. A few months ago, I was rating chips while watching a movie, and I noticed she had found a piece of paper that had fallen off my desk that I didn’t want her to destroy. I was covered in dog, and didn’t want to get up, so I asked her to bring it to me and I traded her a potato chip for it and told her what a good girl she was. The following evening I was in pretty much the same position (I’m a creature of ritual, what can I say?) so she ran around the place looking for paper, finally found a small piece of some kind of wrapper sticking out of the garbage, and she finagled it out of the can and brought it to me for another potato chip. There were lots of toys and stuff she could have brought me, but she had decided that chips were only traded for paper products. Brainy little thing!
The WooTWoo and the Seasons seem to believe that there is a veritable sea of small critters who exist in a hidden mouse city underneath the surface of the snow, because they spend all of our outside time hunting for small furry things while the rest of us play dumbball. I think this is because about three weeks ago Winter found ONE mouse in a dirt pile and since then, it’s Good Hunting for everyone who enjoys that sort of thing. It seems to exhaust them as much as playing ball, so whatever floats their collective boat.
Winter seems to have recovered as much as he’s ever going to. His hind end is still a little weird, and he’s still a little weak on the left. He can’t Be People anymore unless he’s holding onto something, like my leg. But he comes hiking and runs around like a crazy thing without issue. The deep snow gives him a little bit of trouble because the surface is unpredictable and one afternoon he started crying a little bit, made his way over to me, shoved Addy off my knees and tried to climb into my lap, which was our cue to cut our playtime short. But he’s been fine since then, so probably he just tweaked something in the snow. I have to wonder if he had an FCE, like Piper did, given the lack of pain and the continued weakness on the one side.
Even though snow makes my life difficult for a bit, I’m always excited at first for snow photos.
But now I’m tired of snow photos. My knees get wet when I kneel down and I’m too lazy to dig out my waterproof pants every time we go outside. I am counting down days to spring, when things bloom and the entire world isn’t either just white and/or or grey and brown. But first I imagine everything will turn to approximately 3 feet of mud thanks to the snow drifts.
In the meantime, I will have to amuse myself with having the WooTWoo DNA tested! I was contacted by a reader who works for a science project that offers, among other things, DNA testing. In exchange for some behavioural studies I entered them in, the lab is going to try and figure out what they are, and if they are related. So exciting.
What could they beee no-ow?
I’ve had their swab kits here for a bit, but have not had the motivation to do them and send them back, because honestly, right now I’ve just been sort of … struggling a little bit to get through every day. I’ve been super stressed about money (I need to borrow $400, if anyone can lend me $400. LEND), bummed out because I feel overall crappy about my life, bored because photo sessions this time of year are not abundant, and I lack a creative outlet, and definitely cabin fever because for nearly two weeks we were mostly stuck inside as it was frostbite-risk weather, with no water and just general all around suckiness.
Although this puppy photo session was a bright spot in my otherwise dreary life! Her name is Friday and she is super itty bitty; in this photo she is 11 weeks and a whole 9lbs. SUB ADDY in weight! I have the Puppy Envies!
Now that’s cute!
Not doing a very good job of blogging more often in 2019 (Another new year’s resolution shot to hell) but I’m going to keep trying. Promise.
Peggy Lycett says
First: You are such an amazing writer and photographer. Second: Wow. You have had an awful lot to contend with. (I hope somebody wealthier than me has the $400 that could help you right now. ) To move into one of those RVs (which I have often thought is my best/only option for retirement) obviously comes with a lot of built-in problems that you had to discover the hard way. I hope the snow melts and things get sunnier overall.
Mmmm. Yes. What Peggy said. When you give us so much beauty and joy, and give so much love to these beautiful, funny, perfectly imperfect creatures, should not the universe send it back? I aspire to be so talented and tenacious as you, Sheena.
Well, I’m just gonna pile on to the Food Lady love. Your photography and writing are both amazing, and the stories you tell with them bring joy to those of us who follow you. Thanks for all you do.