Snow, Covered

Was listening to CBC Information Morning Fredericton (yep, good old-fashioned terrestrial radio) a few weeks back and there was a gentleman who emailed in reporting that he had tracked ‘days of snow cover’ in New Brunswick for several years. By ‘days of snow cover’ he meant days after the first snow that sticks, and doesn’t melt away. Unfortunately I can’t find if/where he posts any of this info on the Internet so I’ll summarize what he said.

We usually get our first snow sometime as early as October, but it seldom sticks and melts away. Usually it’s at least November or December before we get snow that sticks around, sometimes not even by the first of the year. By his calculations, once the snow sticks, we average around 128 days of ‘snow cover’ each year.

This year he noted that our first snow that stuck was early November and that if the trend continued – no doubt it will – that we are set to break the record of days of snow cover, which I think he said was around 138. Given all the factors, his estimate was that we’d probably hit the 150-155 day mark this year – a new record – and one that would mean we were under snow for roughly 48% of the year.

Friends, relatives and acquaintances often ask how I can manage to live up here with the winters we have. I regularly point out several things:

  • I prefer seeing 4 distinct seasons. I’ve lived in places where the weather is pretty much the same year-round and it gets boring.
  • Given proper preparation and attitude, winter activities are actually awesome and living someplace like New Brunswick means that everyone embraces them enthusiastically, if only because there’s no other choice but to do so.
  • I guarantee that those of us who live in places that see ‘true’ winter appreciate our days of spring, summer and fall far more than those who have a steady climate year round. When you get a limited number of specific kinds of days, you make the most of them.
  • I’ve noticed that amongst people who live regions with harsh or long winters, there is a sense of community and tolerance that is not found it other places. Rather unscientifically I’ve been observing it for some years now and chalk it up to the notion that when you have to possibly rely on the assistance of strangers or neighbors to just survive the winter, there is generally more willingness to set aside differences and an increase in basic good will for your fellow man/woman/person. I enjoy this sense of camaraderie, even if it is futile in a sense of resisting the will of a planet that could easily end us all. It’s fun to persevere.

In the milder months, I can step barefoot right out my back door onto nice green grass. Yesterday, I had to construct a bit of a staircase so Crash could get out to do his thing. If you look close at the top of the photos, you can see our clothesline, which normally is at about 7′ off the ground and that now hits me in the chest and I have to duck under. We’ve been here over 10 years and I’m not sure if this a record-breaking year in terms of quantity of snowfall, but it definitely seems like it will set a new record for being around the longest. I think buddy said probably mid-to-late April. Then Mud Season starts.

If I had a hammer…

I’d bash in some drywall with it.

Pretty much finished the deconstruction of what I had dubbed the ‘Man Lair’ this weekend. There was some nice black mold that was growing along the bottoms of most of the drywall. Mmmmmm. Loooooove damp dark basements.

Soon to be no more. Facelift to follow. The crack in the foundation has been fixed. New hearth in (foreground) for new high-efficiency wood stove. New floor, walls, ceiling (and vapor barriers) to come.

When?

I dunno.

I’ll letcha know.

Manly duties.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised when the crew from the home improvement show showed up at my door.

They wanted a glimplse of my skills.

They wanted to see my tools.

I’m a man. I can build things. I can say things like “we’re gonna have to shim that” and “pass me that auger bit”.

Lyn and I-well mostly Lyn- had decided our bathroom was no longer suitable for our needs. In typical man fashion, I suggested that we turn it into a room to store our guns and booze, and recommended that we use the great outdoors for our toiletry needs, but this apparently was not what she had in mind. To me it was a no brainer, but anyway…

It was decided that we (read: I) would re-do the bathroom. Fixtures were selected, colours we carefully weighed and I made about 17 more trips to the hardware store than were really nessecary, but, being a man, (we don’t make lists, lists are for the grocery) I can’t be expected to remember everything, can I? Especially not with all this ‘man knowledge’ rolling around in my head.

Well, work commenced and actually went smoother than expected. Our two weekend timeline was breeched only slightly (The whole thing done in just under a month and a half! Amazing!), and I learned what I think can be considered one of the most important things that any do-it-yourselfer should know. Are you ready? Do you think you can handle it? Well here is my big secret and the key to all do-it-youself projects: Caulk can fix or hide almost anything. It’s true. Fill gaps, hide nicks, seal holes, correct bad miter joints-it does it all…and it’s paintable! Got a bad piece of bent chair rail going against a wall with a slight dish? Caulk that gap! Vanity not quite square to the base? Caulk that gap! Space between your ceramic tiles and the baseboards? Damn right! CAULK THAT GAP! Outstanding. Now remember, you heard it here…this is my discovery and I want credit. Consequently, Caulk’s close cousin, Liquid Nails, is almost as indispensible, especially since Caulk itself is a lousy adhesive. Who needs nails and screws? Just glop all kinds of liquid nails everywhere and you’re set. You can even reposition the workpiece, but only for a few minutes mind you, or you’ll really make a mess. (But you might be able to hide the mess with Caulk.)

As I say, in light of my new revelation, it was no surprise that somehow word got out (North, the damn dog probably talked. He’s a sucker for hostess cakes) and the crew from that ‘home-improvement-show-that-makes-it-look-easy-but-it’s-really-not’ showed up and said they were doing a show on viewer tips and they wanted to talk to me about my caulk work.

“It’s really nothing,” I said, downplaying my obvious joy at being featured as a major player in such a manly arena as the home improvement area. “All I really did was utilize the natural elasticity of the caulk and it’s forgiving nature to allow it be applied to a variety of challenging joinery situations.” I was trying my best to sound way smarter than I actually am. “By experimenting with various compositons, bead sizes and troweling techniques, I was able to achive nearly seamless transitions in all the varied instances where I used the Caulk as an multi-material joining agent. Take for example this compound miter joint here,” as I pointed to some chair railing joined at a right angle with what seemed to be a glob of play dough, “initially there was a 3/8″ gap here, but you’d never know it looking at it now!”

“Uh, um, that’s really interesting Mr. Fackenthall, but that’s not quite what we were looking for,” the golf-shirted host replied.

“Oh, ok, well, you can see over here is where I used some caulk to hold up this soap holder because I couldn’t find a stud in the wall to screw it to!” That ought to really wow ’em, I thought.

“Well, um, it seems there’s been a misunderstanding.” The host sputtered. “See, when we spoke to your wife on the phone we informed her that we were doing a show on ‘common home improvement screw ups and how to avoid them’ and that’s what were here for. See, what we really want to know is how in the hell you managed to get so much dog hair in all your caulk. I mean, it’s obvious you have a dog and that would allow for a few errant hairs, but looking at the sheer quantity of hair here, it would appear that you were throwing fistfulls of the stuff around the room as you were caulking. What we really want to know is how you managed to accomplish that-so that we can demonstrate exactly what NOT to do for the viewers at home.”

They didn’t stay long after that. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I told them their show sucked or the fact that I made fun of Mr. Host Guy’s pique golf shirt. Either way, they left without getting my secret. I made sure of that.

To be completely honest, I don’t know how all those dog hairs got in there, but in the process of trying to decide how to remedy the situation, I stumbled upon another realization. Paint. Paint can fix or hide almost anything as well! Yes. Paint became my new friend, I just painted right over my paintable caulk to hide all those dog hairs. And this time, to avoid problems, I had my wrestling match with the dog OUTSIDE the bathroom while the paint dried. Screw ups, my ass….those guys don’t know nothing.

For caulking tips…drop me an email.