It’s snowing here this morning. A bit unexpected to say the least…and there is still snow on the ground from over a week ago. Not because there was so much of it (although it was a good 3-4 inches which is a lot for the Frankfurt area) but because it has been below freezing for weeks here.

Just how cold is it? Well, the Main River is frozen 75cm deep in some places. And traffic on parts of the Mosel River was closed down on Monday because they couldn’t keep the river flowing even with 3 ice breakers working. We don’t have anything that extreme to report but our water barrels seem to be frozen solid…

freeze_icebarrel

or at least we hope so. We noticed a few days ago that the water barrels were tipped over and we couldn’t figure out why. A closer inspection revealed this:

freeze_barrelbowed

So we’re really hoping they are frozen solid, otherwise there is absolutely no chance of continuing to use these barrels. They may not recover from this as it is.

But the end is nearing. We’re supposed to get temps in the 40’s during the day next week – which is probably goimg to seem like a massive heat wave then. We’re even talking about working in the garden.

I was just outside sweeping snow off the sidewalk outside (even though it’s still coming down pretty good) because it’s actually a law here. You must have the sidewalk cleared from 6:30a, until 8pm. I don’t know how people with jobs or lives are supposed to accomplish that but we’re trying. They’re predicting rain for the afternoon and then it will freeze again. Should make the evening commute awesome for Stefan.

We’ve taken this cold opportunity as a sign to get the house a little less drafty, more energy efficient and warmer overall. Here are a few of the steps we’ve taken recently:

  • Replace our old radiators with newer, more efficient models. Yes, they are expensive to install but they make a massive difference in the overall heating of the house. The new one in the living room will probably pay for itself in about two years because we’re running the electric heaters much less…and it has been MUCH colder this year but we still barely needed to run any additional electrical heaters to keep things toasty. This means one of our priorities for 2009 is getting the heaters changed out in the bedrooms too.
  • Add weather stripping around doors and windows. It’s amazing how much heat you can lose around these things. On some of the coldest days we could actually see steam escaping from our bathroom window upstairs…not a good thing.
  • Insulated the thin wooden door that you could see through on the mudroom. It’s just a mudroom so it wasn’t a top priority…but when it started dipping into the freezing temps outside and the kitchen temperature was down to 60° F, we knew we needed to do something. We had a heater running in there as well but it’s been so cold the last few days that we moved it to our bedroom where it was making a lot more impact.
  • Put down rugs on the wood floors. You can’t believe how much impact this makes when you are sitting in a room. Having a layer between you and the exposed floor is just so much warmer.
  • Close doors to rooms. This massively reduces drafts and keeps the warm air in a room. We have a big problem with the air rushing out of our bedroom and living room into the entryway and staircase since it’s always much cooler in there.

I’ve also used this wintry backdrop as a chance to put my camera to good use.

freeze_icecicle

Ayla over frozen waters…

freeze_bridge

Black dog in a snowy field…doesn’t she look majestic?

majesticayla

Just another shot of the mostly frozen stream around the corner from us

freeze_stream

One of the many birdhouses here in the natural bird preserve we walk through with Ayla every day.

freeze_birdhouse

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