St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

How Cold Is It?

This week, winter finally caught up with us on the Farm here in NW Wisconsin.  The warmest fall in my memory and most meterologists, continued a few days into December, but finally with my 70th birthday, December 10th, temperatures have continued to drop each day with this morning -15F.  

  On the 9th of December, my real birthday according to Mom who said that I was born at 11:55pm on the 9th rather than 12:05 AM on the 10th as Dr. Jacob Arthur Riegel wrote on my birth certificate info, I was in Mayo Clinic having a 15 minute second cataract removal operation -- right eye this time a month after the left eye. 

   Bought a cheap pair of reading glasses to see close and can see in the distance very well with brighter vision too -- sort of like taking the 1955 TV to the repairman and getting it rejuvenated (yep, they did that to sort of shock the TV into another year or two of brighter images as it aged).  
  No more fogging lenses as I go in and out in the winter; no more worrying about breaking glasses in outdoor activities.  However, as a severely nearsighted person, I do miss being able to read without glasses.  When I fall asleep while reading, it is with my glasses on and so sooner or later I wake up again as I roll over and hear a crunch. 
  This week, with 4 inches of snow, decided to get the Cub Cadet snow blower tractor out and make sure it worked.  The battery was weak this summer, so I kept it on a battery maintainer.  However at 0F, it wouldn't turn over at all, even with the booster-charger attached.  So with Scott's help, got the badly buried battery out, traded for a new top-of-the line $36 one at Menards, and then got it pried and bolted back into place. It is taller than the old one, so the mounting strap/wire no longer worked -- a bungy cord now holds it from jiggling around.  

  Started up immediately, and did the driveway.  The first few runs each fall are hard on the machine and driver as the snow usually comes with rain at first and leaves everything frozen in ruts that the blower bounces along over, casting the first stones of winter.   Did a decent job and now, with the maintainer keeping it peak charged, all 360 cold cranking amps (zero degree) should be ready.  I wonder how many turns of the starter are in 360 cold cranking amps?  With the modern hot spark of electronic ignition, starting seems to be easier than good old days of pans of coals, hot water carburetor baths, and cans of ether.  
   We get several Christmas cards each day.  Haven't sent ours out yet, but have good intentions.  We are saving the cards to open and read on Christmas Eve, when we will eggnog our way into the right mood to read the ups and downs, operations, children's successes and trips of our friends and neighbors.  Sort of a binge of catching up with folks we haven't heard from since last Christmas, and may not have seen for 30 years or more.   Rather nice to remember old friends from old jobs and neighborhoods.  
  Nowadays, some of those old friends and relatives are on Facebook, and we are more in contact than we were when we knew them as neighbors.  We use Facebook as a sort of diary of each day here on the Farm.  A few photos, a few comments, the temperature and so on. My attempt was to do a full year of at least one post per day, but actually did more like two per day with photos.  My theory is that writing a public diary with photos is a way of aiding my own memory.  
  I have been doing Facebook since 2007 -- and I can go back (rather painfully as Facebook does not seem to want to make it easy to look back--but everything is there), and find out when maple syrup season began, ended, and whether there was snow on the ground etc.  
My memory for when my real memory fades in photos and in words. You have to have a free account on Facebook to see the posts, but they are "public" meaning not only my friends can see them, but anyone who wants to and has an account.  The link is -- Russ's Facebook pages

  I also run several other Facebook presences including 
   Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society
   Polk County Wisconsin Genealogical Society
   Luck Area Historical Society
   Backyard Maple Syruping
   St Croix River Road Ramble
   Sterling Old Settler's Picnic
The first ones are for organizations and we try to put something on them each week. The last two are for events that happen each year and are active around the event time.  They are quite effective in getting free publicity for the groups and events. 
The world changes how we communicate and taking advantage of the changes can bring us closer to others.  I like it that my relatives and friends in Sweden and Norway too post what it is like there.  I belong to a group of folks who all claim ancestry from the same island chain (Vikna) on the Norwegian coast. It connects those of us who emigrated with those who didn't.  
  In my young days, I was a Ham Radio bug, and that was the only way common folks could connect with others around the world other than mail service that sometimes took months per exchange. KA0KZF, what we called a "technician" license.  That meant lots of theory of electronics, radio and knowledge of the rules and regulations, but only passing a 5 word per minute Morse code speed.  And then you only talked to fellow hams who mostly wanted to talk about their radio equipment.  
   Change, in my mind, is what makes life interesting.  Grandpa PH said "No one will ever live through more change than I have -- starting with oxen, we have a man on the moon in my years on earth."  He didn't quite live to see the man on the moon, but he knew it would happen.   The biggest changes in my lifetime are in medicine and in computers.  Medicine ushered in the antibiotic age, the surgery age, and the coming of medications that actually worked.  Computers went from idea through giant radio tubes, transistors, chips and became pervasive and made things like cell phones available.  My parents thought that TV was the big change in the lives of children, but I think it was merely an extension of Radio that came in while they were young. 
  Change is good--it is what makes life worth living. My new eyes took 15 minutes to put in, cure my nearsightedness along with my astigmatism.  Not long ago, cataracts meant blindness.  Then they meant "coke bottle" glasses.  By the 80s when Dad had it done, a long surgery, and overnight stay, and results that were good, but never quite normal.  My doctor says the next step includes bifocals in the lens, or maybe lenses that focus just like a young person's own eyes; and maybe a zoom lens after that?