Monthly Archives: January 2010

Jingle Bells 2: The Revenge of Mother Nature

Oh, what fun, indeed! Last Wednesday was an absolutely gorgeous day. Temperatures were near 70°F, a lovely breeze blowing from the South. I had windows open in the house, laundry flapping on the line, and I was working on a new garden bed. Life was grand. However, lurking just beyond our borders was another cold front. The wonderful warm moist air mass we so enjoyed on Wednesday, pushed it’s way North over the approaching cold front. The result: freezing rain. The rain started at 6:40AM, and started freezing within an hour or so. By noon, everything was well coated.

By the time it ended, northern exposures had a good half inch of ice. Luckily our trees are quite sturdy. But Mother Nature wasn’t done with us yet. After the freezing rain, we got sleet, another inch or so. Uncomfortable to walk in, but does provide some footing. Not done yet! Friday morning the snow started. Big fluffy flakes! And it snowed, and snowed, and snowed.

The net result of the two day storm, was 7.5 inches on top of the ice. We were lucky. We never lost power for more than two hours at a time, but the power is still somewhat unreliable, especially if the wind picks up and vulnerable branches start falling onto wire. Again, we’re lucky that the ice storm of 2007 took out most of the weak trees.

My truck is well covered with the various types of precipitation.

The driveway has a solid sheet of ice under the snowfall.

Surfaces that weren’t iced had a lovely coating of hoar frost this morning.

And to cap off the whole experience, we had freezing fog this morning, giving everything that gray scale quality.

My gardens now look like hoop houses. Too bad there’s nothing growing in them.

Finally, the garden I was digging my hands into two days before, is nowhere to be seen, hidden under a blanket of snow. I don’t know how much precipitation we got, I’m still defrosting the rain gauge, but it’s safe to say that Mother Nature gave us a walloping, just in case we’d forgotten it was still Winter. I must say, with the blizzard in December, the subzero temperatures earlier this month, and now this, this will be a Winter I will not soon forget.

On Frozen Pond

Well this week was a bit of a surprise! We knew an Arctic blast was coming, but, wow, these are Canadian temperatures. On Wednesday it was 45°F outside. The snow from our Christmas Eve storm was still melting away. There was a big enough clear area in the front yard for some agility practice. We knew the cold was arriving that night, so I took some extra precautions adding more insulating leaves to my fig tree cage, putting pine straw on the strawberry crowns (the deer had managed to move the chicken wire and had eaten all the foliage), filling the bird feeders, getting some potted plants into the ground to protect their roots (no, the ground was not frozen; this is the South).

By Thursday morning it was 7° F, very cold for 35° N, and the temperature stayed in the teens all day. By Thursday night, the hot water pipes to the sinks in the Master Bathroom had frozen. By Friday morning, at 4° F, the cold water pipes had frozen as well. I opened all the vanity doors, and set up my little space heater (oil-filled electric radiator; nothing with flames) on full blast. With the addition of a fan to blow the hot air into the cabinet, it took 9 hours to defrost the pipes. Talk about a spike in our electricity consumption, we used an extra 16 kWh above our 15 day average, but it’s better than burst pipes. We kept the faucets dripping for the rest of the weekend.

The deep freeze following a rain/snow event left us with some water in the pond that froze solid. It’s highly unusual for this far South. Of course we don’t have ice skates anymore (I’m not sure I ever had a pair of my own), but we felt it was important to mark the event by walking on our frozen pond. Odo wasn’t impressed, and D’Argo just wanted to check out all the new sniffs (I don’t think I’ve ever taken him down there before). I’m very grateful that my new winter boots arrived just before the cold front. My old boots fell apart after the blizzard.

As I write this the temperature is finally creeping up to the freezing point again and we’re expecting 40s and 50s for the rest of the week, maybe even some rain to wash away the rest of the snow. That’s much more to my liking. However, these past few days of cold weather were perfect for working on my quilt, which is now nearly finished.

Happy New Year?

Last month, Odo had to have a battery of tests done because his routine blood test showed elevated liver enzymes. The ultrasound results were not what we had hoped for. Odo has a condition called gallbladder mucocele which is an excess production of mucus expanding the gallbladder, eventually to the point of leaking or rupture. The cure is removal of the gallbladder, so we consulted with a surgeon. During the consultation the surgeon mentioned Odo was showing symptoms of Cushing’s disease, an overproduction of cortisol from the adrenal glands, usually caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland in the brain. We decided the best course of action was to have him tested for Cushing’s first, which was done on December 29th. The test took all day so the results didn’t come in until December 31st. Inevitably (it is Odo we’re talking about after all), the test was positive for Cushing’s disease. There’s no cure for pituitary-induced Cushing’s, but it is manageable. It was decided, in consultation with our veterinary surgeon and our G.P. vet, that we should get the Cushing’s under control before we consider surgery for his gallbladder. So, we start carefully monitored treatment on Monday.

As you might expect, I read all I could find about Cushing’s disease in dogs and realized that symptoms had been showing for quite some time; we just didn’t know it. The poor dog is constantly thirsty and hungry, sleeps poorly, and has anxiety attacks. We attributed this to old age — Odo is 13.5 years old — as the symptoms came on gradually. It wasn’t until his blood tests started looking abnormal that we delved deeper and started putting all the symptoms together. Odo is still basically healthy, so it’s a comfort to know that once we get his cortisol production under control, he’ll be happier without the constant cravings.

With luck, we’ll have the Cushing’s symptoms under control within six months, and we can reconsider surgery for his gallbladder at that time, when the weather is warmer, assuming of course that his gallbladder condition doesn’t worsen. Oh the things we do for our furkids!

Our challenge for the New Year is set: to bring Odo back to health, so he can live out his last few years in canine bliss.