Tag Archives: weather

Winter Unmotivation

11 Dec

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As temperatures drop below freezing and dusk creeps ever closer to 4 pm, my motivation for doing anything with the horses diminishes.  I feel guilty, considering I grew up in Wisconsin (open a freezer and stand in it if you want the Wisconsin experience).

Now in a “mild climate” where a temp drop to 10 degrees is unusually cold, I’ve become a weather wimp.  I prefer to stay in where it’s warm.   When it drops below 40 degrees outside, I decide to stay in and let the horses eat some more hay.

After all, they need time to just be a horse, right?

Granted, a damp 40 degrees with soaking rain causes more hypothermia than a dry 40 degrees anywhere else.  Like Mark Twain said, “the coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.”  Make that any season in Seattle.

You can dress warm in dry cold, but damp chill sneaks through the layers and right into your bones. Also the sun warms the landscape on a cold sunny day, whereas a dark gray chilly one provides no cosmic heat lamp to bask under.

So I guiltily watch the horses outside, knowing I could be working and training and even getting ready for some frigid winter shows.  We showed through a few winters just fine, but that was before I became a weather wimp.

Katie Survives the Change to Daylight Savings Time

11 Nov

 

DSC07111Katie’s weight loss program is not going well due to Daylight Savings Time.  Daylight Savings Time is an evil plot to get people in the northern climes to buy more coffee.

When you add the gray clouds and cold rain of Seattle to short days, it’s hard to get motivated to exercise your overweight pony.

Katie is OK with that.  She is happy to eat and not exercise.  In fact, it may be her dream life, though I think she likes to get out and spook at things at shows and trails.  If we get a dry day I can take her out for a hike.

Last night she practiced her spooking by pawing her feed pan, sending her dinner flying and spooking at it.  Now, remember, Katie is 19 1/2 years old and has been eating for that entire time so she should not be scared of her food.

But she is Katie, so spooking at her food is just part of who she is.  She’s naturally suspicious, which she believes has kept her alive for 19 1/2 years.  But it is a little bit the opposite- she is lucky someone puts up with her spooking because she is so darn cute.  She also has good points: she falls asleep while you clip her, she does tricks, she loves to let  kids groom, braid her and pick her feet.

The Last Blast of Summer

18 Aug

More Katie Pics

With the strange phenomenon called summer continuing, I haven’t been writing very much.  We haven’t seen much sun in recent years, so instead of being hunched up over a caffeinated beverage squinting in the gray gloom of the Pacific Northwest, I have been outdoors enjoying the sun.

And Katie, like Pigpen, emits a cloud of dust when she walks. Everything is dry.  It’s not quite dry enough to stop the grass from growing though. It’s green and dry. So we still have to mow.

The mornings are getting cold and fall is creeping up with the promise of chill and rain.  One day the sunshine will be over and the days will be viewed through windshield wipers and the hoods of raincoats.  It will be dark before 4 pm and not much brighter at noon.

Katie has one more show to humiliate me at this year.  It will be on Labor Day if we decide to go.  It depends on how much ego I need to burn if I will go.  People always think Katie looks cute as she humiliates me.

This show will involve jumping, so she will either fly over the jumps perfectly like she does at home or pretend to never have seen a jump in her life, stomp on my feet and knock over the ones she doesn’t refuse.  She might fly over one just to show she could do it if she wanted to.

We might also try Liberty class again.  In that class, I chase her around with a plastic bag on a stick while she spazzes out to Disco Inferno (her music).  Then I attempt to catch her when the music stops.  If she is really pissed off about being chased around with the plastic bag, she might not let me catch her.  Then we’d be disqualified.  Or she could want me to catch her and we’d get clapping and a ribbon.  Hopefully not a black ribbon, though.  She got a black ribbon for fourth place at the last show.  I put that one in the garage behind some stuff.

Katie makes sure I don’t get big ideas about winning fantastic prizes and world championships.   Every now and then she decides to be on my side and we end up with a good placing.  But I never expect one, because Katie’s not the kind of horse who aspires to worldly success.    World domination, maybe, but not worldly success.

Summer in Seattle

25 Jul

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My blogging has suffered from the first great summer we’ve had in the Seattle area in five years.  The pent up energy from three years of miserable summers has driven me outdoors to do things like garden and stare into space absorbing the sun’s rays.  If I could photosynthesize I would.

Clear blue skies, 70 degree breezes and occasional days that break 80 make staying indoors a crime.  It cools down into the 50s and 60s at nights before warming up.  The air is fresh off the Sound and smells of salt and sea life.

I didn’t need a winter coat or hat on the fourth of July.  The furnace only turned on twice during the entire month of July, which is nearly over.  Tomatoes are ripening- a strange phenomenon that occurs a few times every decade.  The polar ice caps may be melting, but at least we have tomatoes.

It’s paradise.  Last year we counted our summer in hours and days.  This year it will be weeks and maybe even months.  We’ve been to the beach and played in tide pools, rearranged starfish, and picked up hermit crabs.  We went to horse shows without rain gear and had to dig out long-forgotten tubes of sunscreen and sun hats.  Short sleeve shirts in near-pristine condition were dug from the back of closets.

When we get a summer like this with perfect 74 degree weather, green grass, birds singing, flowers blooming, white-capped mountains crisp on both horizons, I want to stay here forever.  The beach sands are warm, except where the icy northern waters lap at the edges.

No mosquitoes bother us and few biting insects live here.  I haven’t ever seen a tick.  Our snakes aren’t poisonous.  They are innocuous garter snakes that bask in the sun at the edges of pastures and paths.

There is no place better when the sun shines.  Unfortunately,  we may only get a few summers like this in a decade.  But when they happen, this place is truly paradise.

Who Will Stop the Rain?

7 Apr

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On days like this when the rain goes on and on, I wonder why people choose to live in a  rain forest.  This isn’t a nice, warm rain forest with jaguars, parrots and palm trees.  It’s a  gray land where frigid water falls from the sky and mud deepens with each day.   You have a green Christmas.  And Easter.  And Fourth of July.  This isn’t a warm, playful rain.  It’s serious rain with serious intentions.

If you have animals, they are under trees or shelter on some type of stone dust footing so they don’t disappear into the mud like their ice age ancestors did into the La Brae Tar Pits.

Ponds appear where no pond should be.  Like on the front lawn.  Today wind is tossing the torrents against my south-facing windows like some cosmic mop water being flung out the door.  I still need to clean my paddocks and stalls.  The horses are munching hay under cover, though being ponies, they’ll just go stand in the rain because they can.  With four inch long coats, the inner layer stays dry.  But no one would willingly pet a sopping wet pony who just rolled in the mud.  This is not a fluffy, cuddly rain.

I met someone who had moved here from North Dakota seeking a more temperate climate.  It was late December and had been raining since she arrived in fall.  She said she was always cold and wanted to know when the rain would stop.

That question usually results in a maniacal laugh by a native or naturalized citizen of the rain forest.  The answer is maybe July.  Maybe not.  Rain?  Stop?  Those words don’t go together.

This wild, beautiful land of flooding mountain rivers and mud-soaked lowlands, with giant evergreen trees and lawns that stay green in December, brings up mixed emotions even among those who love it.  “Rainbirds” head to Arizona in winter.  They come back to enjoy the few weeks of perfect weather that we all wait 9-11 months for.

So if you’d like to move to the Seattle area, I recommend south facing windows (to watch the rain), no houses on cliffs (google Whidbey Island landslide), an indoor arena if you have horses, indoor soccer if you want to play in winter, and lots and lots of waterproof clothes if your kids play softball.  Oh, and high ground to avoid flooding.  Shop for a house in winter so you know how much of your property will be covered by ponds and occupied by ducks in winter.

Katie Explains how to Weather any Storm

22 Mar

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Katie understands the unique challenges of living in the Northwest.

Dear Katie, I am a 32 inch miniature horse.  I just moved to Seattle.  It’s March and has alternated between ice pellet showers, 55 mph winds that blew all my hay away and hours of pouring rain.  When will it end?  Signed, New to the Northwest

Dear New, It will not end.  That is because you live in the Northwest.  You will get a couple of days of summer sometime between the July 4th and Sept. 15.  The good thing is that the grass starts growing in January.  If you escape your fence and eat grass, you will soon not care about the weather.  – Katie

Katie Says Don’t Worry About Climate Change

11 Mar

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 29 inch miniature horse.  I am concerned about my pasture.  The grass doesn’t seem to be growing faster than I can eat it.  Does this mean our climate is changing?  Signed, Weather or Not

Dear Weather or Not, this simply means you are eating too fast.  The grass can only grow so fast and the only thing ponies do fast is eat.  So you must escape your pasture and find new grass to eat so your pasture can grow back.  This is known as rotational grazing. – Katie

Inspiration

3 Feb

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Katie has been very inspired by all the fantastic blogs she’s gotten to read!  She’s also inspired by the fact that grass has started growing again.  Sometime in late January this happens in the Northwest.  It makes us think Spring will soon be here, but spring won’t really arrive until June and we will be wearing winter coats on the Fourth of July.  Then if we’re lucky, we’ll get a few weeks of summer before it starts raining again.  So it’s hard to get too excited about the grass growing in February unless you are a horse!

 

Nothing new under the sun

30 Dec

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There is nothing new under the sun.

That implies you have sun.  Or have seen the sun within the past week.  You can try singing in the rain, but here in Seattle people look at you funny if you do.  The appropriate manner of ambulation in the rain is bent forward, moving briskly with your raincoat zipped or clutched against your throat.

If you are holding an inside-out umbrella, you are a newcomer.

Shadows of Rain

29 Dec

The Eskimos have 80 names for snow.  In the Northwest we have 63 names for rain.  Drizzle, more drizzle, heavy drops, splatter and deluge.  The remnants of tropical storms love to roar in from the south and give us such memorable events as the Inauguration Day Storm.  I only remember that one because I took the turtle to bed.  The power was out and the turtle had no heat lamp, so I tucked him in a box under the covers.  He froze with the rest of us in the 40 degree chill that feels like sub zero and freezes everything except water.
The result is endless green fields, evergreens and lawns that need to be mowed on Christmas day.  In waders.  This used to be a rain forest.   Red Cedars as wide as tool sheds gave way to asphalt, farmland, espresso huts, tree stumps and mud.  I-5 cuts through the trashed rainforest, straight into the Convergence Zone.  It sounds like something really cool should be happening there, such as the Enterprise re-materializing or gravity weakening so we could fly.  Instead, rain squalls create mile-long traffic jams.  Convergence zones happen to form, due to a wicked sense of rain- cloud humor, right at the King-Snohomish County line in the thick of the metro area.   They also enjoy dumping inches of snow on unsuspecting commuters at times when it isn’t supposed to snow much.  This results in events such as the infamous 11 hour commute through Seattle during the last big snow storm.
After living for years within the convergence zone’s favorite spot to form, a mold- infested land where “green roof” means someone didn’t pressure wash and trees sprout from rain gutters, we moved closer to  what’s known as a rain shadow.  Rain shadow=good.  Convergence zone=bad.  In the rain shadow, rain stops and dumps on someone else instead of you.  We are at the edge of one, and the sunny disposition of the rain shadow is a welcome change.  Things are straightforward here.  Especially the wind, which can easily gust to 60 mph without breaking a sweat.  This is not a good place to put your boat in a Costco tarp garage unless you enjoy finding a tattered mangled mess around your boat in the morning.  I don’t have a boat, but have witnessed just such a shelter rebuilt three times with duct tape following run-of-the-mill windstorms.
The good thing is that the wind blows the clouds away.  Sometimes we see the stars at night and glorious sunsets.  There’s usually a clearing in the afternoon that doesn’t happen a mere five miles to the east.  We are on the coattails of sunshine,  tag alongs to the rain shadow without quite being in it.
If you have ever survived a Seattle winter, you will know why that is good.