Laundry day, “steer into the skid” edition

Neighbor L texted this morning that I should bring what laundry I had over to her place this morning, since this is supposed to be the last sunny day in a while. Yesterday after the last chicken run I parked the Jeep up at Ian’s turnaround, as I’ve been doing for the past few days…


It’s about 30 feet higher than the Secret Lair and avoids the steep part of my driveway, which has become like unto a luge run. It also gets the Jeep out of the shadows, which in my hollow are still deep at this time of year. So if I park with the front of the Jeep facing sunrise, the windshield is clear of the heavy frost by the time I need it.

There aren’t many times during the average year when having learned to drive in Michigan is a big help here in the high desert, but I’m spending my short driving time recalling old lessons. We’re in mountains and this is one of the very few straight and level stretches between me and S&L’s place…


Even after yesterday’s sun there’s still a lot of snow on the road because the temperature hasn’t left the 20’s. It’s supposed to cloud up tomorrow but get into the 40’s and then the driving situation will change suddenly. It’s easier to get around in snow when it’s good and cold than when it turns to slop, but if you take your mind off the job you can still find yourself suddenly driving sideways and wondering what’s going to stop you. Foot off the brake, steer into the skid.


The ONE SINGLE disadvantage to having my very own propane bedroom heater is the rate of consumption, which in the past ten days has been prodigious. I brought back two full bottles on Monday, and this morning I connected the second one to the regulator. I didn’t actually blow through 14 gallons in 5 days, the now-empty two were already on the way to being expended, but the heater has been going pretty much full time. Terrapod, bless his heart, has already financed a fifth bottle for that application, and recent TUAK contributions have allowed me to deepen my reserve. We’re (hopefully) reaching the end of what (hopefully) will prove to have been the worst cold snap of ’18-’19, but it certainly won’t be the only one. So next time to town I’ll be ordering an additional two bottles, heading right past luxury to downright decadence. It was 4o above zero F this morning and it is so nice not to lie there dreading the moment when you can no longer postpone throwing back the blankets, I just can’t tell you. The past couple of winters were quite mild, mostly, and I’ve waited two years for a full test of the Secret Lair’s new winter-resisting powers. There are some changes to the plumbing and floor insulation I want to make this coming building season, but they’re really just tweaks. This has been one of the most severe cold and storm periods we’ve had since I came to the desert 12 years ago, and by far the most comfortable.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Laundry day, “steer into the skid” edition

  1. Ben says:

    Comfort is good! Do you use propane mostly just at night? How has your wood consumption been? Do you generally heat just one room at a time?

  2. Joel says:

    Normally the propane heater only gets used at night. Of course normally the woodstove only gets used in the morning, because I get a lot of good solar gain in the afternoon and then I just coast till bedtime. There are obvious exceptions.

    The two rooms don’t share heat well, even though the substantial door between them is only closed at night. So I can bring the main cabin up to 65-70 pretty easily in the morning but it doesn’t help the bedroom much. If I didn’t have the propane heater I’d be thinking of retrofitting a 12v duct fan in the wall behind the stovepipe. But I do have it, so I’m not.

    As for wood consumption: Of course the past ten days have made an unusually big dent in my wood supply but that was anticipated. I estimated yesterday that I’ve burned about 30% of my cut stovewood.

  3. Kentucky says:

    Out of curiosity, do you use “gas tank antifreeze” (HEET) in the winter?

  4. Joel says:

    No, I’ve never used it in my life.

  5. Jim Price says:

    What is the elevation at the Lair?

  6. Joel says:

    About 6000 ft.

  7. Mark Matis says:

    WooHoo! So you’re in the Mile High club every day!

  8. Robert says:

    My gawd, Joel. I’m in friggin’ frigid Wisconsin and it was 46 today. I grilled outside without a coat or hat. Have y’all set a record for cold at your locale?

  9. Joel says:

    Have y’all set a record for cold at your locale?

    Not even close. My all time favorite unpleasant night hit 21 below. But an old timer told me that was like a 30-year low. On the other hand I don’t recall any cold spell going on quite this long, so it might turn out to be memorable.

To the stake with the heretic!