Stay Warm!

No wonder autumn seems like such a short season — it is. Summer borrows from fall to extend the torrid weather a couple of more weeks, and winter butts in on the back end, shoving the temperate season out of the way so it can get in a few early weeks of cold and snow.

According to the calendar, winter doesn’t arrive for another 32 days, but according to the weather, winter is already here. The high yesterday was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and although we only got an inch of snow yesterday, there was enough ground cover to warrant sweeping. And then, to clinch the winter encroachment, the temperatures last night got down close to zero, with a minus 7 windchill factor.

I was going to mention how cold it felt, but to tell the truth (as I try to do), I barely noticed the chill since I was outside only long enough to sweep off my front ramp and to check my mailbox. The rest of the time I was snuggled inside where it was warm.

Luckily, it warmed up to a sizzling 41 degrees today, so I was able to go to the library and replenish my stock of books. One of the books was on hold for me and I was about thirtieth in line (though admittedly, most of those people were from other libraries, and like most libraries, this one is jealous of its new books and holds on to them for about three months before sending them elsewhere), but sometimes being a good patron has its perks. Since this was Saturday afternoon, and the library doesn’t open again until Monday afternoon, the librarian let me check out the book ahead of the next person in line. Although she didn’t stipulate that she wanted it back early, she knows she’ll get it back quickly. Now that gardening season is over, what else do I have to do with my time but read?

Well, if it warms up into the fifties next week as the weather forecasters are anticipating, I will have to mow my lawn one last time, and probably even water since a scant inch of fluffy snow doesn’t amount to much moisture. (The average snow-to-liquid ratio in the USA is about 13 to 1, yet in the dry west, it’s closer to 50 to 1, so that 1” of snow we got yesterday is about .02 inches of moisture, a far cry from the .50 inches per week my grass needs in the winter. To get that .50 inches of moisture, we’d need 25 inches of the light powdery kind snow we often get. No thank you!)

Luckily (I think) when the frost comes and stays around without warming up during the day, I won’t have to worry about the grass. And who knows, I might eventually have to give up on the lawn altogether. Now that the Bermuda grass has gone dormant, leaving a wide perimeter of brown grass around the green, I can see how much that weedy grass has encroached in only a year.

But this wasn’t supposed to be a discussion of my lawn. It was supposed to be more about my visit to the library and how I knew just about everyone who was there today. Apparently, I wasn’t the only reader who had finished all their books in record time and needed to restock. It made for a nice social occasion, though actually, I’ve been plenty “socialized” lately. After last week where I agonized about attending a luncheon meeting only to have it postponed, this week I simply went without a second thought. Then yesterday, a couple of friends came to tea, and today, before the library visit, I talked to another friend. Whew! As a hermit, I am somewhat of a failure, though I still do spend the bulk of my time alone.

And, since I’m updating you on various matters — weather, library, grass, socialization — there’s one more thing. I mentioned that I updated my operating system to Windows 11. It also seems to have updated MS Word at least to a certain extent. Although this version is much the same as my previous one, there are small differences that keep me on my toes.

I just noticed that the heat keeps cycling on, so whatever warmth the sun brought seems to have dissipated, and we will soon be down to tonight’s low of 11 degrees. Yikes.

Stay warm!


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Water Update

It’s been so warm here the past few days, I thought it would be a good idea to water my grass. I’m sure it needed the moisture — this has been a very dry year for us, with only a few piddly snow days — and it also gave me an excuse to spend time outside in the sun as well as reacquaint myself with my yard. A few sprouts are showing — mostly the larkspur that I’ve been trying to naturalize, which is good. What I mean is that it’s good there are a few sprouts and it’s also good that there aren’t more of them. The last frost typically comes the first week in May, so there would be plenty of time for the weather to kill off any baby plants that were so foolhardy as to show their faces. (Larkspur aren’t foolhardy, just hardy. They don’t seem to mind the cold as much as other new sprouts do.)

In other water-related news, I received my water bill yesterday, and this one is as mystifying as the pervious bill that showed a 19,000-gallon usage over my normal winter usage. When the people in the office saw that high usage, they sent the meter reader out to read the meter again. (It’s a fairly new meter, an electronic meter that was installed at the end of summer.) When he took a new reading, he said the meter was working perfectly and that there were no leaks, but the meter had already shown a usage of 3,000 gallons since the previous reading a few days before.

I called the office, of course, and they said the meters were guaranteed to work perfectly without error, and she told me I had to have an intermittent leak, like from a toilet that didn’t shut off. She wouldn’t listen when I explained that there was no problem with my plumbing, but a week later, she did send the meter reader out again. He shoveled the snow off the meter (this was right after the only real snowstorm we had all winter), took another look, and said the meter wasn’t running, which indicted there were no leaks. He had me go inside and run the water for a minute, and the meter showed a gallon usage, so he decided that meant the meter was working fine.

He suggested that someone might have stolen the water, but there was no outside tampering, no digging to get to my water pipe, and if by chance anyone had used one of my outside faucets (which I’d sealed off with insulation to keep the pipes from freezing), I would certainly have heard 20,000 gallons of water moving through my pipes. For that much water to be missing, they would have had to run the water continuously for days, and that simply had not happened.

Meantime, my contractor sent someone out to check my plumbing, and they found no leaks, no water, no anything to indicate what had happened to the more than 20,000 gallons of water that were now missing.

So nothing was done. The people in the office insisted the meter was working fine and that I must have leak. The meter reader said the meter was working fine, but there was no leak. The contractor said there was no leak, the problem was with the meter. I paid the inflated bill anyway, because the only thing worse than excess water would be no water.

So, fast forward to the latest bill.

This time, the overuse was about 3500, all of which had occurred between the time of the original reading to the time of second rereading. The last ten days of the billing period — from the second rereading to the final reading — showed my normal winter water usage of about 30 gallons a day.

Now I’m stuck without any recourse, because obviously, whatever set the meter off somehow self-corrected. My surmise is that the first subzero cold spell we had made the electronic meter go haywire, but who knows what the truth is. All I can do is hope that the meter continues to work properly and to monitor the situation in case it doesn’t.

I have taken away a lesson from all of this — if the people at the water company are not concerned about a hypothetically missing 20,000 gallons of water in a drought year, then I’m not concerned about wasting water by watering my lawn in the winter.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Wisdom of the Wildflowers

We’ve been having wintery weather the past few weeks, mostly just cold and wind, but also a storm that left several inches of snow behind. It’s been gradually warming up, and the past couple of days have been spring-like. In fact, it barely got down to freezing last night and quickly warmed up because of the searing sun. I’d planned to water my grass this morning to make sure it didn’t dry out, but instead I was called in to work.

So not only did my grass not get watered, I spent this lovely day inside. It might as well have been a winter day, for all the good it did me. Still, it was a nice day, no great hardships or catastrophes, and besides, there will be more such days, though not for a while. Tomorrow winter weather returns, accompanied by a high wind warning, removing any possibility of giving my lawn a drink. I hope this lack of water won’t be a problem, but even if it is, well, all I can do is what I need to do, and today I needed to work.

I did notice that a few larkspur are timidly poking above the ground. Apparently, the cold spell followed by warm weather tricked the seeds into thinking it’s spring. Larkspur are hardy things, especially when they plant themselves as these did, and I tend to trust what a blog reader said, that the wildflowers know what they are doing. So chances are, they will survive the next winter spell or two.

I hope my grass borrows some of the wisdom of the wildflowers and will find a way to survive these up and down times.

This photo of the larkspur is from last year. Bits of green might be poking through the soil, but no wildflower that I know of is so wise as to be able to survive weather extremes. It’s amazing that we humans can, but then, we are lucky enough to be able to create our own indoor habitats that protect us from the worst of the weather.


Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.