Monday, December 24, 2007

The Worst is Over?

Well, we made it through the winter solstice, which is a big deal here. Shortest day of the year. Civil twilight began at 9:32 am. The sun crept above the horizon at 10:58 am. Sunset was at 2:40 pm and civil twilight ended at 4:06 pm. 3:38 of sun above the horizon is pretty rough. The moon was a waxing gibbous at 93% which made it almost tolerable. Right before the solstice we had a cold snap of -40s. Yish. I missed most of that while on travel. Climatology has us at +5 high and -9 low for December; not half bad. According to our friend at Swingley Development, the current running average is probably pretty close to climatology. The cold snap made up for warm anomalies early in the month. The sunlight minimum has passed but the average temperature minimum is typically in January, thanks to thermal inertia in the climate system. We here in the 'banks are all generally weather obsessed for obvious reasons.

What are some of the impacts of -40 on our way of life? Good and bad. Our tires are square in the morning. They tha-thunk down the road until they warm up. On the other hand, freezing food is free. We like to cook a lot and squirrel away the extra in the chest freezer. The cold helps us save on energy costs. With the cost of oil and the cold temperatures, we fuss a lot about energy consumption. Bob's good about installing timers and unplugging stuff when we don't need it...I don't know if it's the engineer training or just common sense.

We recently purchased an "energy efficient" counter top dishwasher from Edgestar. It's slightly bigger than a microwave and supposedly holds 4 place settings worth of dishes, silverware, and glasses. Uses only 3 gallons of water and has an internal heater, so the input is cold water. Perhaps the verdict is still out, but after one load all signs point to "piece of crap". Like all other consumer products these days. And because Compact Appliances wouldn't ship to AK, I shipped it from Nebraska at great expense. Oh well. I don't think our expectations were too high, but like many Alaskans, custom made cabinetry meant no chance of a regular dishwasher. Bourgeois problems.

Well, we've been busy dirtying dishes as well, since our friends A. & P. gave us this incredible cookbook. We love Deborah Madison's Veg Cooking for Everyone, but a lot of these soup recipes are really new and interesting. I made the lentil walnut cream soup yesterday, which was delicious, even with my substitute of hazelnuts. Bob's been doing mad baking all month which is nearly killing me. I finally got out for a ski today and look forward to working off the latest chocolate cake. Yes, I think the worst is over.

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