Gray, rainy day.

Today it’s raining.  50 degree days have been few and far between.  It has been warm enough to melt the snow and the daffodils and tulips are growing furiously.  We found crocuses at the school where I work.  The school daffodils already have buds.  It will be a while, before the daffodils in my yard have buds. This is the hardest part of the year, to wait for the green to come!  Warmer weather would help, but long-term predictions say the cold is here to stay, for a while. We have to take what comes, when it comes!  I guess it’s better than the snow that northern Wisconsin is getting!

Purple crocuses spring 2014
Finally, a bit of color!

Beautiful day yesterday!

We had a very wintery winter this year.  In January, we had weather so cold that we had wind chill warnings.  The coldest temp was -17F with a -40F windchill.  We missed 3 days of school because of the cold weather.  Also, even though we have had 56 inches of snow (46 inches is the average), through the end of February, we’ve haven’t had a major snowstorm.  That 56 inches fell pretty much an inch or two at a time!  The snowplow drivers must have been exhausted because it was about every other day for a while there. The cities are all running out of road salt, too!

It’s a good thing spring is coming and we got a glimpse of it yesterday, with temps that reached into the high 50s!  I loved being outside with only a fleece and not needing a hat or mittens!  Sarah and I took Jasmine to her favorite walking spot at the bridle trails on the south side of Sheboygan.

The snow was really soft, though, and hard to walk on.  It was similar to walking on dry sand on the beach. Jasmine and I both worked hard!

We even turned off the furnace and opened up the windows for 2-1/2 hours yesterday, too.  I loved getting fresh air into the house.

Snow in Sheboygan

We’ve had 47 inches of snow this winter, in Sheboygan. Yesterday, we got 6 inches.  It’s our biggest snowstorm so far!  Then it was nice and warm today, so the roads are already in pretty good shape!  In January, it kept snowing, but the temps were so cold, the salt really had no effect. I haven’t been taking that many pictures of the snow, because we kept only getting an inch or two, and it didn’t seem worth the bother, but now, with 6 inches, it’s starting to look like further shoveling will be a challenge.  In other news, we could get more snow on Thursday!  Or not.  It all depends on the storm track.

So, today, was in the 30s.  It felt great.  After -17 with a -40 windchill, everything will feel warm from here on out!  I keep laughing at the weather men who keep talking us it’s “cold”, but only down to zero, or it’s “cold” getting down into the 20s.  We’ve been down to -17.  We can handle it.

Still, there has been snow packed on my driveway all winter.  We aren’t so good at shoveling and then Gary doesn’t always have time to snowplow right away, so it’s been sad.  I’d like to see my driveway again. Maybe we will, someday.

Jasmine checking out the spirea bushImage

Jasmine, following me down the driveway, instead of sitting by the snowbanks!Image

My neighbor’s evergreen trees.  Not every storm makes them looks so pretty!Image

The sky was trying to be blue!  We get so many cloudy days in WI. Maybe it’s because of the lake!

Cold January and Replacing Motors

In 2014, we have missed 3 days of school now.  The first two were January 6th and 7th and then again on January 21st. It was almost cold enough on January 20th, but not quite.  These days had wind chill warnings it was so cold.  On January 21st, Sarah and I went out to see the Disney animated movie, “Frozen!”.  LOL! We both really liked the movie.  After the movie, we came home and got supper ready, so were busy and moving around a lot. After supper, I notice it was quite chilly in the house and I check the thermostat.  It says 64.  Brrrrr.  Also, the house was very quiet because the furnace wasn’t running.  Our furnace motor had been giving us fits and would occasionally overheat and stop working.  Then hubby had to take it apart and lubricate it to get it working again.  I noticed this all at 6:30pm.  He was out of town and had to process a lot of photographs and a video for the newspaper, before he could come home.  By the time he got home, around midnight or so, the house had gone down to 53.  It was -2 outside.  Sarah and I were wearing layers and covering ourselves with blankets. Fortunately, he was able to lubricate the motor again and get it running again, so the house could warm up again.

On Wednesday morning, he ordered the furnace motor from Amazon and got 2-day shipping.  The motor arrived on Friday afternoon and he installed it when he got home from work on Friday night.  The furnace has been purring and keeping us warm since Friday now.  It’s a good thing.  The heating and cooling company that installed the furnace wanted $600 to install a new motor.  We got it from Amazon for about $180.

A few weeks ago, the motor died on the dryer. That we ended up buying a motor from the local appliance store and Gary watched a video on the internet on how to replace that.  The dryer also purrs now.  It’s nice to have both of those items working perfectly now.

I’m very thankful for dry clothes and good heat! Spring is getting closer, but it’s not here yet.  A house at 53 on a cold, January day was no fun.

Mist rises from the warmer lake, when the temperature is below zero! The temperature on the US Bank building was -17 as we drove down to the lake.  The weather sites online said the wind-chill factor was -40.  We were under a windchill warning that day.  Sarah and I only took a few pictures, so we weren't outside very long.
Mist rises from the warmer lake, when the temperature is below zero! The temperature on the US Bank building was -17 as we drove down to the lake. The weather sites online said the wind-chill factor was -40. We were under a windchill warning that day. Sarah and I only took a few pictures, so we weren’t outside very long.

A shout-out to all the plow-drivers on 1-25-14

We had a little bit of snow on Friday night and then all morning, the snow was blowing around and causing drifting on the roads between Sheboygan, WI and Sauk City, WI. (Hwy 23 in Sheboygan and Fond Du Lac counties, Hwy 151 – Fond Du Lac, Waupun, Beaver Dam, and Columbus, and Hwy 60 – Lodi, Arlington, Sauk City and Prairie Du Sac.
It looked like a thankless job while the wind was blowing the snow right back on the road, plus having to deal with all the traffic while you did your jobs.

On the return trip, in the afternoon, the roads were much better and there was far less blowing and drifting. The salt and sand sure helped where the snow had gotten onto the roads, too.

Staying home would have been nice, but our daughter needed to get back to college and we needed to get her to her ride, so that we didn’t have to ride all the way to River Falls, WI. I’m thankful that all of us arrived at our destinations safe and sound. We saw many vehicles in the ditch, especially on the way there, this morning. Yikes.

While my car did fish-tail once, I was able to stop it, without losing control. Phew!

Also, we found out while we were there, that bald eagles like to spend their winters on the Wisconsin River near Sauk City and Prairie Du Sac.  Prairie Du Sac has an overlook by the river and we did get so see an eagle flying around.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a bald eagle in the wild.  

Nearing the end of fall.

It already feels like winter and we’ve already had a touch of snow here and there.  Tomorrow, we are supposed to get 4-7 inches and they say it will be “lake-enhanced” snow, so that could mean we get more, but they don’t always know.  We’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

We had such pretty colors this past fall.  The colors just went on and on and on.  From the first trees that changed, to the last trees that changed, it felt like we weeks and weeks of reds, yellows and oranges.

red-maple-tree-Greenbush-2013
This is near a picnic area in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit, near Greenbush. We found a nice trail, but it sure had a lot of hills! It was nice day to walk. 9-24-13
red-sumac-greenbush-2013
We found this in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, too, on 9-24-13. Red sumac leaves are so pretty in the fall.
red-creeper-evergreen-ryankelly-2013
Sarah and I had never noticed this plant before, but this year we saw it everywhere!
Dawn and Sarah on Parnell Tower
10-13-13 – We hiked up to Parnell Tower. The colors were spectacular!
red-maple-leaf-Parnell-2013
We saw this red maple leaf on the steps as we were coming down the tower.
oak-leaves-Parnell-2013
We found this tree near the parking lot, before you climb the big hill and climb the tower.
orange-maple-parnell-2013
This tree was near the parking lot at Parnell Tower. It’s very tall! The leaves were so orange!
yellow-maple-backyard-2013
Yellow maple tree in the backyard. A few days after this picture was taken, the leaves were gone! Picture was taken 11-5-13.

I’m so behind on taking pictures of dishcloths and also getting them knit!  LOL!! I need to spend some more time actually knitting, rather than looking at Facebook and Twitter!  One of the cooler ones we did recently was an illusion snowflake in blue and white!  When you look at it straight-on, it’s hard to see the snowflake, but look at an angle, and you can see it then!

Summer 2013

It started out so cold, that the plants had a slow start, but eventually it warmed up and there was a week in July, where we had the AC on for a week continuously.  Then the plants really took off!  We didn’t end up with THAT many tomatoes, but there are enough for us.   The coneflowers and the cosmos were blooming like crazy.  One of our begonia plants took all summer to make new buds, but it’s blooming like crazy now.  My hydrangeas had a good summer and only now are looking a bit bedraggled.  I love where we planted them, because I can see them from my kitchen window.  August was mostly comfortable, with a few hot days thrown in.

Now, I’m ready for fall.  We changed the decorations in the living room today, to the fall stuff and Sarah and I were swooning over the pumpkin-scented candles!  I want to see pumpkins and I want to buy apples, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready to see the leaves change!  LOL!  Some trees have already started, though.  I’m not as happy that the days are getting shorter.  It always becomes more obvious as you get into late August, and that will just keep happening faster and faster and faster.

We went to the county fair today.  Sarah got a 2nd place on her blueberry muffins

blueberry muffins

and a 4th place for her chocolate zucchini bread!

zucchini bread

She was happy and is already planning what baked goods she’ll make next year.

Emily got a 1st prize on her knitted turkey dishcloth (it’s hung sideways!),

knitted turkey dishcloth

a 3rd for her child’s hat,

red child's hat with white flower

a 4th on her baby sweater,

blue striped baby sweater

and a 4th for her pear tomatoes.

tomatoes-sm

The pigs were asleep, as usual.

sleeping pigs

Sarah and I got to have chocolate cookie dough ice cream cones and Gary had a butter pecan ice cream cone.  It was warm enough, out at the fair, but I know it could have been a lot worse!  We also watched the western drill teams do their routines to music, on horseback.  Their routines looks so complicated and they make it look easy!  Sarah and I loved going through the barns to see which horses we could pet!

Mid-June and I still need socks!

We have a day or two, where it is nice, where I think the air conditioning would be nice, but then the sun starts going down and it cools off nicely, so the AC stays off, the furnace doesn’t run, but yet my feet are still cold! I’m much happier with socks on, except that it’s nearly officially summer and I can’t stand to have bare feet. I don’t know if we are ever going to really warm up.  Last summer, we got up to 100 and this summer, it drops into the low 50s at night.

I wouldn’t be so concerned, but my daughter, who is studying horticulture, said that our tomatoes need the temp to be 55 or higher, at night, to form tomatoes!  So, I keep worrying about us not actually getting any tomatoes from our 2 tomato plants (Wisconsin 55 and Yellow Pear Tomatoes) It would really be a bummer not to have home-grown tomatoes.

Our basil doesn’t necessarily look happy, either.  I think it likes more heat, too.  We are only in the mid-60s today, which is good for humans, but maybe not so good for the plants that want it warmer.

Also, not that I would be swimming that much, but it has barely been warm enough to go swimming, too.  If I was a kid, I’d really be bummed.  Some friends of ours did put up their pool and did swim in it already, but one of the kids looked really cold in the picture.

My lupines and wave petunias are happy, though!

06.08.13 Lupines Petunias