Cold Snap

Cold Snap

Last night the temperature outside dropped like a stone. From above freezing temperatures yesterday down to -18C this morning, with a wind chill of -28C. But I wouldn’t have known that the temperature had dropped if I hadn’t looked out the window at the thermometer! The thermostat is quietly and invisibly smoothing out my life, making sure that the temperature in the house remains relatively constant, and warm enough for comfort. My clothes are warm enough to don as soon as I rise from the bed. I can sit anywhere in the house and feel equally comfortable. And best of all, Attila need spend no time thinking about firewood, chopping firewood, totting firewood, or building fires. Oh the luxury!

We do think about what we would do here if the power went out for any length of time. We do not have much of a backup plan for such an eventuality, although we discuss the issue from time to time. Hopefully we have a lot of time to develop a suitable plan of action.

At night I turn the thermostat down to 17C (62.6F). In the morning I turn the thermostat up to 20.5C (68.9F). At these temperatures I am almost always comfortable, and never suffer a chill. I wear an undershirt, a shirt, a zip up sweater, and from time to time a down vest, so that the layers can be removed or added as needed. On my feet I wear cotton socks and slip resistant running shoes, which keep my feet protected from the cold floors over the unheated basement.

We talk about insulating the basement, but it is a big job, and too costly on our present budget. As it is, our heating bills are manageable. Who knows though, with electricity prices about to jump even higher, insulating the basement may become an expensive necessity. Many of the renovation improvements on our list will reduce our energy bills!

I get ahead of myself thinking about renovations though, because this month is the month in which we will feel the brunt of our reduced income, and the stretch to pay all of the holiday and moving related bills. It is the month when our property tax bill will arrive, and it is a significant bill. It is the month where Attila’s time off without pay during the holiday season will be keenly felt. It was worth it!

Come March we should be back on our feet. And we are enjoying the benefits of our expenditures, a decent internet service, a local telephone number, comfortable beds, and increased storage, precious time shared with family, to name just a few.

This morning I am back to organizing and purging. I have a few items to attend to, such as arranging a service appointment for a recall on our car, and working on an appeal to lower our taxes, as our house is assessed far above what it is actually worth, and we are paying taxes on a phantom, and false, level of investment.

I baked all last weekend so that Attila would have bread, and squares, and cookies for his lunches this week. I like to do my baking when the hydro is less than half price, which it is on the weekends.

I am thinking I should create two lists of tasks, one of tasks that require no electricity to perform, and another one of tasks that require significant electricity to perform.

Today it is so cold that I am seriously considering not going out for my walk. My arthritic knee was painful after walking when the temperature was hovering around freezing. I dread to think how it would feel if I attempted to walk on a windy day with a -25C wind chill factor. So, to compensate for not getting out for my walk, I am cleaning the house, washing the floors with a cloth always works up a sweat.

My pile of items to donate is beginning to get large again. I will soon be tackling the basement, which is chock full of boxes! I know there are two huge totes full of text books, and three large filing cabinets full of teaching materials, and PhD research materials, all destined for the bonfire. It is a wonder to me that I spent so much of my life focused on these things! I would think of it as a waste of time, but for my enjoyment of learning and developing highly disciplined and analytical thinking skills. I think the thing that gave me the most pleasure as my skills increased, was to realize that my intuition has always been accurate. The more I learned, the more I trusted that my own feelings and thoughts have always been based on keen observation and relatively unbiased analysis. I also learned, as I suspected, that no one and nothing is completely unbiased in this world, including science, including me.

I will close with a short report on the Big Berkey. We continue to use it for all of our drinking water, and I love it. In our small kitchen it has a place of honour, where it is used off and on all day long. It is worth every penny, and then some. We use tap water for drinking, and the Berkey removes all traces of chlorine, and all kinds of things I can’t taste or smell. Other side-benefits are that we are not drinking water stored in plastic, and we are not generating piles of empty water bottles to be recycled.

The Big Berkey in our kitchen, clean fresh water on tap. Beside the stainless steel Big Berkey sits the Cuisinart, purchased when Luna was a tiny tot. The bowl has been replaced once, and the machine is still going strong after close to forty years of continued use. The Cuisinart has paid for itself many times over, and I expect the Big Berkey will do the same.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 7:00 AM EST Monday 4 January 2016
Condition: Mainly Clear
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: -17.9°C
Dewpoint: -23.2°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: N 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -28


“Nobody outside of a baby carriage or a judge’s chamber believes in an unprejudiced point of view.”
Lillian Hellman
1905 – 1984


  1. Bex

    That food processor is just like my previous one. I finally got a new one, much bigger, too. I don’t use it very often but when I do, it’s nice to be able to make a big batch of something like cole slaw.

    It’s getting very cold here too. Today we had a few flakes of snow but nothing much more than that. Just a tease.

    Happy New Year!

  2. The food processor in the picture is a very big one, the Berkey is a very large item! Food processors are really handy for people who cook from raw ingredients, like cold slaw! I sliced 50 pounds of carrots in short order, then blanched and froze them. We ate the last of those carrots last week.

    We haven’t had any snow, and what snow there is out there has transformed into glittering fields of smooth ice, very pretty, and I am glad I don’t have to walk on it.

    Happy New Year Bex and Paul and the furry members of your family!

  3. crochetlady or Lee Ann

    Temps dropped here too. I am dreading next month, we are all electric and I had to boost the temp to 75f when hubby got sick- he couldn’t stay warm. I lowered the temps back down to 68 today. Any colder, I don’t have enough clothes for yet. All my clothes are dress clothes!

  4. Electric heat is costly Lee Ann! We are grateful for our air source heat pump, which Lares installed for us. It uses the ambient heat in the outdoors to heat the house, and the pump and fan work on electricity, but it doesn’t cost a lot, we are paying a total of about $6 per day for heat when the outdoor temperature is above -7C. We had electric baseboard heaters at our country house, and the electric bill was in the order of $25 a day when we used the electric heat.

    Right now our oil furnace is heating the house, as the air pump only works when the temperature is -7C or above.

    Keep warm!

  5. NORA

    Hi Maggie,

    Things have come along so well. What a difference since you have moved. So many blessings. I hope this year I can boast many of the same things! Looking forward to our move and want to head to Asheville. We are going to check it our early spring.

    I have the same Cuisinart but rarely use it as I don’t cook like I used to. I use to make some delicious brownies with it though.

    Now that Big Berkey…I am going to have to look into that. We are tiring of having to drag water up three flights of stairs. No one will deliver up three flights either. I have been looking for a water filter for awhile but they are all plastic. Berkey is SS, that I like.

    Maybe a few down quilts would help if you lost your electric. I have them and camping lights, battery operated candles etc. But our temps do not go anywhere near as low as yours.


  6. I can’t imagine the cold you endure! I’m glad you have reliable means to deal with it, though. I like what you say about trusting your intuition. That’s an interesting water purification system you have there. We have reverse osmosis, which requires a technician to come and check and/or change the filters regularly. Yours might be less expensive in the long run.

    Stay warm!

  7. Nora, I had to look Asheville up on a map, it looks very pretty! How exciting!

    I tend to go in spurts with my kitchen appliances, sometimes I go long periods of time without using them, then suddenly, I am using the appliance almost daily. Some things are used daily year round of course, like the cutting board, the bread box, the knives, the plates and cutlery. I love my Cuisinart. Since I cannot buy additive free mincemeat in the store, I use the Cuisinart to make my own, and it is worth it just for that!

    The Big Berkey is a big hit on the budget to begin with. I estimated five years worth of water in plastic bottles could be purchased for the price of the Berkey. We are finding the Big Berkey big enough for our needs, they have smaller ones, the travel Berkey looks interesting. If we ever get our mythical travel trailer, I plan on bringing the Berkey with me.

    Quilts won’t help us here if we lose our electricity and we get a windy -20C night. It would be unbearably cold in the house. But I wonder if winter camping gear setup in the house might work, something to explore!

  8. Joan, I didn’t know that there were home systems that used reverse osmosis, it sounds intriguing, does it supply all of your household water? The Berkey only takes care of our drinking water, the water fresh out of the taps is full of chlorine and who knows what else, and we shower and bath in that. I noticed a huge difference from the well water at our country house. After a shower here at Mist Cottage, my eyes are rimmed red from the chlorine in the water, although hardly notice it anymore.

  9. You are right Diane, January is a great time for sorting and purging! Thinking of that, I could work on the basement, making my way up and down stairs would do me a world of good while I am shut-in here during extremely cold weather. Cleaning is good exercise too, this place will end up being spotless!

  10. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Aw!! Does my heart good when I see you noting the changes you and Attila have gone through, moving to this new place. What a difference just the heating has made for the two of you!

    A few years ago DH and I invested in a programmable thermostat. We got a coupon for $10 from the electric company so it only cost us about $20. Now it turns our temp down to 68 at midnight (we’re usually up until 1AM), turns it up to 70 at 7AM when DH gets up for work, and up to 72 at 9AM for me – during the week, that is. We love our programmable thermometer!

    DH and I are tap water people. I’m aghast at the folks who buy all those plastic bottles when much of the water they buy is just filtered tap water, anyhow. We never seem to have noticeable chlorine in our water, though once in a while I’ll notice a sulfurous smell. Not sure what’s up with that.

    I bought DH a food chopper for Christmas. He’d been using one that he’d had for more than 30 years and while it was still turning on it was starting to have problems with the parts holding together. He loves his new chopper! 😀

  11. Yes Teri, the move has really given us a new lease on life!

    We have a programmable thermostat, but we don’t really use that function on it, mostly because before we moved here we usually left the temperature at a steady 7C, and then since we have moved here Attila’s work schedule has been very erratic, so that much of the time one or the other of us is awake. You never know though, his schedule could settle down eventually and then the programmable aspect of the thermostat would be a real boon.

    Gotta keep the cook happy, glad he likes his new chopper!

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