December 31st 2017

With a pinch of sorrow I write my last haiku tonight—the last for 2017. I will write another year’s worth of haiku, but not next year. I went out again and captured some of what’s going on in Vermont.
This was a blind photo, as I had to stand on my tiptoes and hold the camera as far over my head as I could—a couple scrogglings with their caps of snow.
apple branch

Despite the cold, which tonight may almost reach -30 below, winter is never so beautiful.

The sun doesn’t have it itself to melt the snow that caps the branches, apples still dangling from the tree (all with their little winter’s caps), or the limbs of the evergreens.
····whichever way—the Milky Way and horizon
The wind-raked icicles on my house. Though they’re charming, they’re a bad sign. They mean that you’re losing too much heat through a poorly insulated roof. That’s something I’ll fix this summer or next. If the windows look like they’re leaning, that’s because they are. The house was built in the 1810’s and the wall was farmer-built, braced to last as long as the farmer, not for 200 years. The wall twisted and all the window openings with it. When I put in the new windows, I reasoned it was the character of the house. That’s how the house wants them. And that’s how you will always know an old house from a modern reproduction. To really reproduce the old colonial houses, a builder needs throw out his levels. Then, when all the clapboard’s are out of tune, the roof a little out of sorts, and the windows not quite right, you’ll know the reproduction was done good.
playgroundAnd to the left is a little bit of a playground I rescued. These climbers were headed for the metal scrap. Couldn’t bear that. I had them brought to my back yard with a front loader and my girls played and played on them—and still do just a little. A house with children is the right place for them to retire.
And with that, my haiku year ends. To all a Happy New Year.
365 December 31st 2017 | bottlecap


11 responses

  1. Nothing gold can stay. But I assume you will still be posting an occasional review or longer poem in the meantime.

    About those temps…I’ve seen lows in the teens take out my plumbing in NC. Can’t imagine the hazard 30 below entails. Transfiguration to ice sculpture while fixing a tire?

    • Yes, I will be, and more haiku, as the mood strikes.

      The drop in temperature this evening is incredible. We sat down to supper and by the time we finished the temperature had gone from -2 to -10. So far, they’re predicting the daytime high on Saturday to be -11. That’s phenomenal, in the strictest sense of the word. And yes, if there’s any bad combination of plumbing and air infiltration, -30 will find it out. Period. Fortunately, in my house, I’ve done an awful lot of work in the last few years. My plumbing used to freeze every time temperatures dropped to -10. No longer. In some cases I drilled a quarter inch hole in the sheetrock, stuck in a nozzle of high expansion foam, and emptied the can in the wall. Anything to kill the damned air infiltration. Our house was a complete disaster. Replacing all the windows and doors has also helped tremendously—but mostly air-infiltration (spray foaming and cellulose).

      Since I work as an energy efficiency subcontractor, I’m thinking I’m going to have non-stop work this spring and summer. A whole lot of people are going to realize just how poorly insulated their homes are. Could be tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage before this season ends.

  2. I note that the copper side of my plumbing is more resistant to total devastation but I’ve had to totally replace the CPVC half of the house twice in a 16” crawl space (not fun). So I would assume pcv, cpvc, and pex are not practicable in Vermont given the sub-zero lows and that most folks plumb with copper. Is that right?

    • No, CPVC is junk (as opposed to PVC). It’s in no way comparable to pex. We always remove it if possible. I would never even consider subcontracting with a plumber who considered installing CPVC — regardless of whether it’s still “to code”.

      Pex is a good product and actually withstands freezing better than copper. Pex is used throughout Vermont, including some that I’ve installed in my own house. The downside to plumbing ones house with plastic rather than copper is that plastic lacks copper’s antimicrobial benefits. Water, in a pex system, needs to be stored at higher temperatures in order to kill the microbes, for instance, that cause legionnaire’s disease.

      Some folks prefer copper because it looks, well, more solid and classier. With the new copper crimp connectors (which are just permanent versions of Sharkbite connectors — despite what plumbers will tell you — also relying on neoprene washers) copper can be as quick and easy to install as pex — but way more expensive.

  3. I agree CPVC is substandard, but I’ve always been partial to the cheap, quick fix. Anyway, I’m only averaging that kind of shredding cold spell every 10 years. Moreover, such are my plumbing skills that, if I had come back with copper, I’d still be under the house. It will drive you crazy to sweat so many joints, repressurize, and find half of them dripping in a muddy workspace with hardly enough clearance to turn sideways. As for pex, you must be talking about the reformulated pex because in the old days there were so many pex failures it led to a class action lawsuit. Which begs the question, to put a poetic touch on it (since this is a poetry site), if “the past is prologue” “What rough leak, its hour come round at last,/ Slouches towards Vermont to be born?”

    • So the lawsuits with the pex had to do with their use in heating zones. The problem wasn’t with pex “failure”. It was that the pex didn’t have an oxygen barrier. The way it’s supposed to work is that the water’s oxygen content (in a heating system) is low because it’s been stuck in a given zone for X number of years. Because the pex wasn’t oxygen impermeable, the fresh oxygen in the lines was rusting out all the boilers. They eventually figured that one out. There are now two kinds of pex, one for drinking water and one for heating systems, oxygen impermeable, such as you would use in a radiant floor. As for fittings on pex, I use the stainless steel viaga fittings (based on what a favorite plumber uses). When it comes to copper I sweat all my joints. Not worth buying an 1800 dollar crimping tool for stuff around my house. As for what rough leak? It’s a good month to be a plumber in Vermont.

  4. I was confusing pex with quest…easy for a poet to do the way they assonate…but I think pex like quest still has to be kept out of sunlight…

  5. Upinvermont,
    It wouldn’t allow me to post a comment (despite leading me on for several pages of data mining) but I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your haiku over the last year. Several were real gems.
    I have encouraged my older students to access your site.
    Best wishes for 2018.
    Chris Hardy

    • Thanks chracker, blocking first time comments is the default setting for WordPress — blocks spammers.

      Glad you liked a few of the haiku. They’re kind of like photos. You have take a hundred pictures to get one masterpiece — or something like it.

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