Saturday, January 08, 2005

I was sneaking around this morning trying to get a picture of the Bradford Pear tree in our yard. This might be too small to see, but all the birds in this picture are Robins. They are eating berries from the tree.  Posted by Hello

Friday, January 07, 2005

Elm tree with ice damage Posted by Hello

Mother Nature is pruning

One thing is for certain, ice and trees don't mix. This is particularly true of elm trees. Most old farmsteads have many of this species of tree. They must have been popular to plant as yard trees in Kansas years ago. I am not sure why as they are not a strong tree and really, not very pretty. Perhaps, they withstood dry weather well. Anyway, many old farmsteads on the route looked like my picture. The worst was an entire elm tree that split right down the middle, with one side just missing the mailbox. If I would have been sitting there at the time it would have fallen right on me. That would be a near miss delivery. (probably only funny to other mail carriers.)

Many yards, ravines, creeks and the Wakarusa river valley have hard woods such as oaks, maples and hedge. I saw very few of these trees with any significant damage. In fact, there is one huge oak tree in a pasture that hardly had any branches drooping. It is a beautiful, strong tree that probably has with stood many storms.

Pine and cedar trees are well suited to cold climates. The ice forms on an entire tree and everything just sags. I don't think I saw one evergreen tree with any damage. Oh, I take that back, there was one very tall pine that had fallen over--that is the roots were out of the ground. This particular tree was a part of a very old windbreak. Last summer, the owner decided to clean it out. He cut down all the trees except this row of large pines. I wonder if that tree was used to having other trees around it and when it became stressed by the ice, it didn't have "help" from nearby trees.

Kansas pastures nearly always have a few cedars. They are a perfect shelter for rabbits and quail. The little ice houses made by these trees probably kept a great many small animals warm during the storm.

A last thought about the damage is that perhaps the weak branches that fell from trees because of ice needed to be pruned anyway. Look out when Mother Nature decides to prune her trees!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

This looked amazing Posted by Hello

The ice made the branches heavy Posted by Hello

It had started to cloud up Posted by Hello

I'm Back!!

It's been an eventful week. The reason I haven't written is because Starband has been down for two days. It might have been ice on the dish. Dan went out and poured warm water on it earlier this evening & now it is working. We are real technical around here.

The winter storm was all it was forecast to be. The pictures I posted on Tuesday were taken when it was just beginning. It was a wondrous thing to observe ice forming on trees and fences as the day progressed. The ground temperature was warm enough to keep the roads free of ice on Tuesday.

I might forget from one year to the next, but yesterday might have been the most severe ice day I have ever worked. Well, I take that back, because I have worked when the roads were a glare of ice where as yesterday there was a light scuff of snow which provided a little traction. It was the buildup of ice on the mailboxes that was unbelievable. Usually, when there is ice on a mailbox, just a tap with a rubber mallet will shatter the ice cover. Yesterday, it took two and three hits to free the ice so the mailbox lid could be opened. Multiple that by 378 boxes (are you asking me if I want some cheese with that whine?) Anyway, the day moved along fairly well as I had my "sweetness" Nova and so I ran down the roads with no problem and I got into a rhythm with the mallet.

Today was much colder than yesterday but the sun shone until about noon so that made it seem warmer. I tried to think while on the route how I could put into words the beauty today. It almost seemed surreal. Everything was covered with ice--grass, trees, wire fences--everything. When the sun shone it looked like an ice palace. There was also the occasional prism. I don't think the pictures fully convey how lovely it was.

Many aspects of the storm weren't so beautiful. The tree damage is extensive. Many homes have been without electricity for three days. There will be a lot of clean up involved. It is easy for me to write about the beauty of the ice storm while sitting in my warm house. There are homes without heat & electricity as close as three miles.

I will write more about the trees tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

There is a winter storm warning for our area tomorrow--don't know how it could be worse than today. All is good in my little white Nova, though. Posted by Hello

Monday, January 03, 2005

Weather & Which

I’m finally home with my truck safely parked and all mail delivered. The weather was a frozen mist all day but oddly enough the roads were never slick. Dan has my “sweet” Nova in the garage, serviced and ready for tomorrow. The forecast is falling temps and more moisture.

The big debate among mail carriers is which vehicle is the best for the job. I have never used a four-wheel drive. The reason being I do not want to put up with the rough ride all year when I will only need it a week or two where my route is located. However, my rear wheel drive pickup is not adequate on ice since I have to stop and start quickly. My solution is my little Nova. It is a 1988 hatchback with front wheel drive and studded tires. I am unstoppable with that little car. Bring on the ice!

I have thought so often about the terrible tragedies families have suffered because of the Isunami. All of us have felt a sense of remorse in the midst of abundant Holiday gifts and food. Today I decided the best help would be a financial contribution. This is the best list I have seen in one place. Good intentions don't make good deeds so I am putting my check in the mail tomorrow.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Back to Work in 2005

Home, unpacked and washing.

There's a weather alert--ice then snow

A short night for a rural carrier!

Skiers  Posted by Hello

Written January 1st

This is our third day in Colorado with our entire family.  We have had a wonderful time and I really am not ready to go home. We arrived in time for dinner on Wednesday. The drive went well considering we had several errand stops before we could commit to the drive west.

Thursday morning we opened presents. The kids loved their games, Thomas the Train items, and cowboy outfits. We played with the new toys for a while, then we went to the Focus On the Family center where there is a wonderful play area for children. Anyone visiting Colorado Springs should take their children there for a visit.

Thursday evening we had a delicious Christmas dinner of ham, scallopped potatoes, salad and goodies for dessert. I know it can be frustrating for parents to deal with children at meal time, but as an outsider watching, it is fun to see them progress in that most important adult function--eating with enjoyment. I predict our grandchildren will love good food with the best of us!

Yesterday we were up and on the road at 6:00am headed for the slopes. We decided to ski Copper Mountain rather than Breckenridge. It was a good choice as the slopes were suprisingly uncrowded and the weather was just about perfect. It ended up that Doug, Kim and I were the only skiiers in the family. Drue had to stay with little Carly Kay, Marc stayed with the boys because he gets to ski later in the year, and Dan didn't want to chance an injury. We were riding up the Super Bee lift at 9:10 am. We made three runs and stopped for coffee. I had taken a nasty fall and was feeling tentative with my knee. (I injured my ACL snow skiing in Utah nine years ago so I have to wear a brace when skiing) We had several more runs and I decided to get a table for lunch while Kim and Doug skied. As it turned out, I decided to listen to my body & not risk further injury so I didn't ski anymore. Doug & Kim had a good day. I did too as I probably made six or seven runs.

New Years eve was great. The stay at home party had ham & beans ready when we arrived. We played games with the boys for a while and then they were off to bed. They had a good day with the Polar Express movie and lots of play time. After bedtime we played "Battle of the Sexes" and the ladies kicked the guys rears. I will say, I think the girl questions were harder than the guy questions OR girls just know more about guy things! (For those not familiar with the game, the guys answer girl questions etc.)

At midnight we watched fireworks off of Pikes Peak sponsored by the Add A Man Club (more on that later) It was awesome.

2005 will be a good year!