The Pyrenees on Tuesday


As most of you will know by now, most of Europe has been in the grip of a Siberian cold front. In France, this is the longest lasting cold spell of this intensity since 1996 or 1997 and,  no one was really prepared for it. Certainly WE were not prepared!

Here in the Possum Kingdom, some of our temperatures, including windchill, were down to -20 C during the night. And, for this California girl, that is COLD!!! It has been so cold that we have taken to using the car to get the dogs to a place where they can do their thing swiftly, then return to the relative warmth of their chauffeur driven chariot. And, they don’t complain!!!

In fact, since the snow over the weekend, we’ve HAD to walk them this way, because the salt and cold temperatures were so uncomfortable for them that they would suddenly just stop walking and hold a paw up in the air in confusion and discomfort. What’s a doggie-mom to do? I dug the car out and away we went.

Here at our little nest, our boiler has been going almost non-stop, and we keep the thermostat at 17 C, which is way below the local average. We even had to fill up on oil several weeks earlier than we usually do; but we couldn’t take the risk of running out, which is not only uncomfortable, but bad for the boiler as well.

On top of that we’ve been using our fireplace as both supplemental heat and emotional comfort. The dogs are thrilled and argue over who gets the best spot for napping:

Shmoo won this time!

I still remember how afraid our dear Diva Maggie McMiggins was of the fire. Clearly, neither of the current two canine residents share that concern.

But all is not warmth and happiness here. Our doorbell appears to have frozen and no longer works. I brought it inside, because people kept pressing it and assuming we weren’t home when we didn’t answer. It works fine inside, so I’m hoping once there’s a thaw it will be back to its chiming self.

Then, yesterday, I was in the midst of  doing laundry when the washer started flashing the error code that means something is blocked. I assumed it was the usual dog hair or occasional escaped sock problem. The unfortunate part is that to find out, you have to open the filter at the bottom of the machine, which pours water out all over the floor of the garage. Only this time, I did it and didn’t find any blockage. I looked more closely at the booklet and saw it could also be the drain causing the problem. When I went to check the drain, I realized that the water had frozen solidly inside it! No wonder it wasn’t going anywhere. So, I drained enough water to get my sheets out, then finished rinsing them in a basin in the sink, just like Grandma! Now, we just have to wait for the pipes to defrost.

And, just to be clear, this is a pipe that is INSIDE my house in the garage. Now, that is cold!

There have been several articles in the local paper about various disasters caused by this cold wave, including the probable devastation of most of the current vegetable crops and, truly sadly, hundreds of deaths of the Flamingos in Narbonne. The poor things are not built to cope with this kind of cold.

Good news is that the temperatures are starting to rise a bit. Right now it is +2 C, which is the warmest it has been in well over a week. We’re even supposed to have rain, as opposed to snow, sometime next week.

One thing  you’ve got to say; when winter decided to visit, it did it in a big way!

Ciao for now.


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4 thoughts on “

  1. I had heard a little about the European cold, but your tale tells so much more, 8-). Beautiful pic of pups & tile floor made me think of insulation, and I ended up going through the house-rehab pictures. What a job that was! Do the stone walls hold the heat at all? since you certainly couldn’t get any insulation into them! Or are the side walls common with the houses on either side, like in NYC brownstones??

  2. The walls are their own insulation in many ways. On one side, we have a neighbor who is always in residence, so we each sort of heat the other’s house. The home on the other side is mostly empty, so that is less efficient, I’m afraid. But at least having horses on each side is more of a buffer than if you are an isolated house on a plot of land. The floor IS cold, even though there is insulation under it. But that’s the nature of tile. It does keep the house cool in the summer though. And, the fireplace has a sort of oven effect on the stone when it’s in use.

    One of the problems we have at the moment, besides the frozen washing machine and doorbell, is that there is compacted ice and snow in the wheel wells of our Beanie, and when I drive that rubs against the tires. It’s so frozen that I haven’t been able to remove it, so I’m worried about it giving me a flat. I’m going to try harder to poke it out with something sharp today…

    • hmm, how about an extension cord and a hair dryer? the problem with that is, whatever melts off in the process will re-freeze somewhere, like on the garage floor or the street. Maybe the 2d step would be to shovel up whatever comes off, onto the lawn or out of the street, anyway. If you go the sharp-object route, go slow, don’t want to damage steering components or brake fluid lines… too bad there’s not a car wash in town (I bet?) that could apply hot water AND be set up to deal with the run-off. GOOD LUCK! and scritches to the puppies.

  3. Amazing as it seems, I no longer own a hairdryer! My last one blew, and because my hair is short and very curly, I don’t use one. A blow dryer just blows out the curls and leaves the frizz, so I let it dry on its own. Lots of fun in the below freezing temps!!!

    Anyway, we were able to poke out the ice without doing any damage to anything else (as far as I can tell) and, our friend Roy came over and de-froze the drain to the washing machine, so we are getting back to normal despite the continued cold. Good excuse to stay inside by the fire and watch TV!

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