Thursday, January 8, 2015


Here it is, three o-clock in the morning and I am sitting in front of the computer.   Two days ago I came up with Filthy Mc-Nasty throat: hoarse, raspy and flimmy (probably more than you want to know) so I am not sleeping soundly.

Also, being in my seventies I now get up at least twice during the middle of the night to pee.  

As usual, at one-thirty I stumble downstairs to complete my nightly ritual.   On my way back to bed I pass the window and notice that it is totally dark outside: the lights in the well house are not on (the heat from two one hundred watt bulbs connected to a thermostat keep the well house above freezing during the winter.)

We had an unusually warm December, with day temps reaching near forty and night temps just below freezing; but, a cold blast came in from Canada and tonight the temps have dropped to eight below zero – the first below zero night this year.
When you live up north and get your water from a drilled well, the prospect of the well head freezing and bursting is the thing nightmares are made of.  
So, on go my long johns, jeans, socks, boots, shirt, vest, heavy jacket, watch cap and gloves – my wife hears me up and brings down my flashlight – and off I go to the well house to replace the bulbs. 

The well house is across the road and about twenty-five yards from the house,    Windblown, over the snowbank, across the ditch I trek – at least the moon is out, reflecting off the snow so I don’t need the flashlight. 

I am the kind of person that does preventive maintenance.  After living in the bush for so many years I prefer to foresee the chance of trouble and address it before it happens.     True to form I had replaced the incandescent lights in the well house in November and sealed the door with weather stripping.   The weather stripping made perfect sense back in November with temps near forty, but now at eight below the weather stripping is frozen and I can’t get the damn door open.  

Back to the house I trek for a screwdriver, then back to the well house.   I tear out the weather stripping with the screwdriver and finally am able to pry the door open.  The interior is cold.  The small electric emergency back-up heater I keep in the well house isn’t working.  (They don’t make incandescent light bulbs any more but two years ago, thinking ahead, I bought six extra.) – I replace the bulbs and then head back to the house to get the back-up, back-up heater.  

Returning to the well house I replace the heater, finally get the door secured but notice light seeping through the crack between the door and the sill; and if light can get out cold air is getting in.   With the flashlight I am now searching through the snow for the scraps of weather stripping that were torn out with the screw driver.   Retrieving a piece here and a piece there I am able to stuff enough stiff frozen Styrofoam around the door to complete a seal.  

Finally, back at home I undress, add a log to the woodstove, lie down and start coughing. 

 Fuck-it; I’ll get up, get a glass of apple juice and turn on the computer.

So here I am.  

Do you believe in mischievous imps or fairies, brownies, sprites, elves or pooksa?     I do.   They are the spiteful spirits that keep the ten pen from falling when you throw a strike ball; they cause a faucet to drip all night; they cause trouble with your car that disappears when you take it to the dealership for repair; and they are surely the ones that made the lights go out and the back-up heater fail tonight when the temps dropped to eight below – probably thirty below with wind chill. 

We can’t see these rascally creatures; but cats can.   Did you ever wonder why a cat suddenly jump up and charge across the room for seemingly no reason?    He probably just chased a fairy.   Cats are always vigilant for these trouble makers and do their best to keep them from our houses.

Almost five.  Going back to bed – if I can find room between my wife and the two cats which are bed hogs.    

the Ol’Buzzard


  1. Sorry about that cold blast from Canada. That's just the Loki in us, eh? P.S. Here in Edmonton, we have a celtic pub called Filthy McNasty's!

  2. Read somewhere that 10% of winter heat came from Incandescent bulbs which will now have to come from the furnace. Law of unintended consequences.

  3. My pumphouse (which now only contains the pressure tank) is relatively small, less than 64 cubic feet, so it only requires one 40 watt bulb in a cheap trouble light to keep it warm. The water has always been cold enough that when we run a lot of water the temp in the pumphouse drops. We've had several days of below zero weather and the temp in the pumphouse has stayed above 40°.

  4. What a night ! Bad enough that we are up and down, but that other stuff was a travesty ! lol

    Been cold here too (for us), Temps hovering at 0 with 30 mph winds. While I don't feel the need to move to a warmer place (I'm so sick of hearing people squawk about moving to Florida--go! GO ! I don't know why anyone would want to live there,. lol) I am achy and cold. More layers. Stay inside until I get cabin fever and then rush out and back in again. HAH !

  5. A new market for smuggled light bulbs from Canada & Mexico!

    1. I will buy them. Don't know what I will do to replace this old tried and proven system. A lot of water pumps in the north are going to freeze up.O'B

  6. This story alone is sufficient to convince me we were right not to buy a little house by the seashore in Nova Scotia when we retired. We have a small apartment in the city, but it's warm in winter, the lights usually stay on when we turn them on, and the grocery stores are a short walk away.

    1. If I were younger we would move; but it would not be south. I love Canada. I am also content here in Maine - it is the US that frustrates me.


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