See Ya Later Honey

Photo credit Jenn Strannart

Photo credit Jenn Strannart

It’s the freeze up season again, that horrible time of year when you forget all the wondrous times living on a floating house, and instead begin to question if all this craziness is actually worth it. This year I made darned sure to miss it. The dogs and I have decamped south. While we’ve been enjoying balmy British Columbia temperatures, hiking amidst autumn leaves, and rolling on the still green grass, (the dogs anyway), the Spaniard has been at home waiting for the freeze up.

IMG_0078Perhaps this seems like an unfair separation of responsibilities, but it all boils down to one fact. If we aren’t home for the freeze up, there is about a 1 in 5 chance that the house might freeze in on an angle, in which case we’d have to live in a crooked house until the thaw, some 7 months. Now this bothers me not in the slightest, but the Spaniard wants to prevent it. It took me a while to figure out why this might be important, but finally I understand. If you know the Spaniard, you know that really life is all about food. Eating and thus cooking. And so having a tilted stove for 7 months is a big problem. And therein lies our respective geographical realities. I’m currently in San Francisco at a emergency medical conference, and today it’s 22 degrees. (The photo of me was taken this morning at Blue Bottle Coffee, surely the best coffee in the new world). Martin is in Yellowknife where it’s been -25 for a day or two. (The rest of the photos below are taken by Martin yesterday. I think the one of Martin pretty much says it all). The lake actually froze up yesterday. It sounds like it was pretty awful, more so even than in previous years. Here is the email from Martin yesterday:

We are frozen in.

Last night was one of the longest and ugliest nights since we moved to our houseboat.

The strong north wind pushed the waves onto the deck, and despite my efforts (moving full propane tanks around, filling a 45 gallon drum with water, as well as emptying our water tank) the waves still splashed and covered the north side deck with thick ice. Between 3:20 and 4:45 am I could only watch, as at minus 24 degrees, the lake went from sloshing to complete stillness, leaving the northwest corner of our deck sloping down gently but noticeably.

You may think – so much for me being here for freeze up in case something goes wrong – but the fact is it would have been much worse if I had not counter balanced the weight of the ice build up with all that added weight on the south side.

Glad it’s over and I hope I won’t have to do this any more.

Long story short: we are frozen and if the wind from hell (south) doesn’t blow and break up the frozen lake we’ll be OK.




Even though I couldn’t have really changed things, I feel like I should have been there. No one should have to deal with that sort of thing without at least moral support. I could at the very least have cooked him some eggs, somewhat imperfectly, on the slanted stove.

About Tandi

I love my morning coffee, reading, the wilderness, paddling, poetry, my Spanish husband, and being a doctor. I also love writing my blog, and reading yours.
This entry was posted in The Song I Live By and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to See Ya Later Honey

  1. You can see how clueless I am. I never thought about the house shifting and slanting in the freeze if no one was there to prevent it. We had both an apartment and a house with slanting kitchens. Very difficult to cook.

    • Tandi says:

      The other problem of course is all the pictures in the wall. They sre crooked all summer with the bobbing of the house, but in the winter I can straighten them all. Howvwr this year it will be difficult.

  2. Todd says:

    I think Martin is someone I’d like to meet someday. As someone who nearly got thrown out of a friend’s house for picking up a burner grate and checking out the washers the technician who’d been brought in to professionally level the stove had used I promise I’ll behave myself.

    • Tandi says:

      Actually Todd we might need your stove leveling services!

      • Todd says:

        Hmm, from your comments below it sounds like you’re probably in the business of shimming the entire stove, though that can be tough if it’s hung or countered in on both sides—hopefully the previous owners of #28 didn’t lock you in that way. If you need anything unique I’ve a bit of aluminum around and haven’t used the milling machine in a while.

      • Tandi says:

        Thanks! Turns out the slope isn’t bad enough to interfere with the cooking. It just causes the doors to swing open at times. Although we may not be done yet – it seems like its sloped a bit more this evening, after the first car went by outside.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I know I shouldn’t laugh, but I laughed. Your comments about Martin and his preference for a non-slanted stove brought everything back in a flash: cooking on a boat! When I sailed from Alaska to Hawaii, the stove was gimbaled fore and aft, of course, But side to side? That was a problem. I had the funniest pan of brownies you’ve ever seen: a half-inch thick and really, really crispy on one end, andtwo inches thick and barely baked on the other. The good news is — they still were chocolate.

    The speed of it all amazes me. It reminds me of the icing up of ships, and the varoius expeditions that got caught by ice.

    There’s a wonderful poem that both you and Martin will like. It’s too long to add here, so I’ll just add this link. If it doesn’t work for you, I’ll type it out and link it myself. It’s one of my favorites, but I never thought I’d know anyone who knew the experience!

    • Tandi says:

      Hi Linda

      I will pass on your comments to Martin. Dinner will still be dinner, even if its a bit thicker on one side.

      The speed of the freeze up amazes me too. From open water to walking on ice in a matter of hours. Its already 6 inches thick.

      I would love to see the poem but the link doesn’t work. Can you send me the details and I will search it out? Thanks, looking forward to reading it. For some reason poetry can really capture an experience, usually better than prose.

  4. shoreacres says:

    I found I had a typed copy of the poem, so I uploaded it to my server. See if this gets you to “Erebus, by Linda Bierds.

    • Tandi says:

      Oh Linda. I love this poem. Imagine those men, imagine that bird. Imagine seeing a bird after a winter locked in the ice.

      Thanks so very much for sharing this, how kind and thoughtful of you.

      What a great treat for me, to discover a new poet. 🙂

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