Stayin’ frosty

A well-known Arkansas meteorologist and storm chaser (he prefers to be called a “storm tracker”) a couple of weeks ago gave gardeners in The Natural State the unequivocal green light to plant. We wouldn’t see freezing temps again, he said, ’til October.

A week later, he apologized.

Last night our overnight low was 34°F. The state’s northwest corner was under a “frost advisory” for the third time since we got the weather guy’s go-ahead to put backyard crops in the ground. There was even a slight chance of freezing drizzle in the northernmost counties.

Another frost advisory is in place for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll be in the 60s, though Tuesday’s high will reach only the mid-50s. Then maybe — maybe — we’ll be out of the winter woods.

There are no guarantees. Such is April in Ozarkansas.

We’ll hang at the campground on this sunny Sunday, relaxing and readying to make another move on our ideas for The Mountain tomorrow.

Notably today, Smudge has gone multisyllabic on me. When I put her into her crate, now she bitches me out in complete sentences. Totally not kidding.

Though I’ve been singin’ the blues about tight finances, Deb and I haven’t gone to a bread-and-water diet or candlelight. We’re simply avoiding making any more expensive mistakes. So we’re fine, certainly in better shape than lots of folks.

It’s a sort of tactical frugality, to coin a phrase.

Being frugal means spending wisely and getting value. Up on the homesite yesterday I deployed a couple of recent acquisitions which qualify as bang-for-buck items.

The first is a mini electric chainsaw, a battery-powered handheld tool intended for light duty and occasional use. It came to me with two 21V batteries, two chains and a charging adapter. According to the specs, it’ll make up to 70 cuts through 4×4 treated lumber on a fresh battery, which takes about two hours to recharge.

The price, with coupon code, was well under $50. The brand is irrelevant, really, since Amazon lists dozens of the things — all of them are, I suspect, pretty much identical under the skin. Dealer’s choice.

I gave the little saw a mild workout yesterday, maybe 20 cuts. Because my expectations were realistic, I was very impressed — it zipped quickly through dead cedar limbs as large as three or four inches in diameter. The tool was easy to control, too, never feeling like it’d buck or jump out of my hand.

By the time I stopped, the new chain had stretched a little and needed adjusting. It’s also worth noting that the saw has no provision for lubricating bar and chain, meaning that I’ll want to keep oil handy while I’m using it.

Obviously the concept of a mini chainsaw makes sense, dispatching small jobs that our Stihl and DeWalt saws can’t do as easily. At this point I can say that this one definitely is capable. Time will tell how well it holds up.

The other gizmo I fielded yesterday scratches my personal weather itch — the Acu Rite Portable Anemometer. Unlike the weather apps on my phone, which extract readings based on location, this handheld device measures ambient conditions — wind speed, temperature (including “feels like”), relative humidity and elevation.

The backlit LCD readout can be customized to suit a user’s preferences (°F or °C, mph or knots, etc.). Elevation (altitude), however, since it’s calculated based on barometric pressure (which varies), requires a little fiddling — I check the altimeter app on my phone to establish a known value, set the anemometer to that value and it’ll track variations from that baseline until I turn the power off.

The Acu Rite isn’t “smart” — no Bluetooth, no WiFi, no GPS — but for what it is, I think it’s cool. That it can be had for under $40 (I got mine at Tractor Supply) makes it a relatively cheap thrill.

(If you’re into that sort of thing, I mean.)

Each of these items costs less than DoorDash for two. Deb and I figured they were worth a try. I’ll stop short of a whole-hearted recommendation, since I have long-term experience with neither, but I thought I’d present them here for your consideration.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB