In The Quiet Of The Night

This morning we awoke to a comfortably warm house.

Last night I sat up late, in quiet contemplation, waiting to close the damper on the masonry heater as the last blue flames flickered with heat. Attila had gone to bed early, to recharge.

The night time low was -12C, and the temperature is rising! Relief from the cold! Cold can be very domineering. Tonight it will back, down to -27C, with a stiff wind gusting to 40km/h. The windchill will be significant. We will be all charged up and ready for it!

About a foot of snow fell in the quiet of the night, stealthily, unseen. It is falling still, like a fine white mist. So pretty. But the gusts of wind drive the snow hard across the sky. The main highway is closed again due to poor visibility; for the third time this winter. Attila may not have to tote as much firewood today, but he will be very busy shovelling snow! In fact, when he arrived home from work he had to park on the road and shovel out a space to park the car at the end of the driveway. And we are going nowhere on bad roads, again!

My Mom, who grew up in a rural village just north of where we live, calls this a “good old fashioned winter.” And she would know!

On Attila’s day off tomorrow we will celebrate my late January birthday. I like to celebrate when Attila is around and about. I have requested a turkey dinner, and will bake myself a chocolate cake. I feel quite jolly to have made it this far, truly something to celebrate!

The pattern purchased for making a comfortable apron is still waiting for fabric. When we made our trip to the lab for Attila’s blood test I managed to visit Walmart. They sell fabric, in pre-cut swatches, all the wrong size for my purposes. There are no fabric shops in the town, as the only fabric store closed down about five years ago. After perusing the internet for fabric, thinking to buy fabric online, the price tags took my breath away. There were some bargains on offer from USA online stores, but shipping to Canada would be costly, and then there are all the fees associated with things coming over the border. My next thought is to eventually visit the thrift stores in search of a reasonably priced piece of fabric. That will have to wait until winter allows a bit of mobility.

The cornbread recipe has proven to be a big hit! Attila likes a slice of it, smothered with our homemade baked beans. This constitutes a complete protein meal, which he needs first thing in the morning before heading out into the arctic air. I have been enjoying a smaller slice topped with homemade applesauce for breakfast each morning. There are still some spy apples left from the half bushel I purchased in the fall. Most of them are still crisp, having been stored in the basement, our giant refrigerator. They make a lovely applesauce.

The new coffee machine is sitting downstairs ready for use. Attila has decided though, that until the frigid weather lets up, he will continue to use the old Bunn. It keeps water heated, and emanates a little bit of heat all the time. That coffee machine has heated the back room, where the laundry tubs sit, every winter since we moved into the house. It keeps that room above freezing, which amazes me, as it is usually the only source of heat in the basement! [I say usually because since the pipes froze on us this week, we have turned an electric heater on in the downstairs bathroom, the electricity will be cheaper than repairing burst pipes. Needs must.]

Worldly Distractions


-7°C [-27C predicted for tonight, what a contrast!]
Date: 11:23 AM EST Saturday 25 January 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 98.8 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -6.7°C
Dewpoint: -8.4°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: W 18 gust 34 km/h
Wind Chill: -13


“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.”
Joseph Wood Krutch
1893 – 1970

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Maggie, I was thinking about you today as I got up to frozen water lines to the washer, a freezing (and eventually frozen) drain line from the upstairs furnace and a more gradually freezing drain line from the downstairs furnace. I kept telling myself not to whine, that you had it much worse, and at least I didn’t have any snow piled up on the ground. Bless the husband who came home from his morning activities and spent the afternoon thawing lines.


Maggie, as a built-in safety feature, the furnaces stop firing if the drain lines clog, but husband got it fixed and additionally insulated when we were only down around the temperatures at which you’re currently living.

We really appreciate the link to the heat cable. I didn’t know such a thing existed. It’s good to have friends in cold places!


Maggie, I hear you. Given the overnight temperatures and the fact that the upstairs line froze again, we’re thinking that the real problem might be in the drain line inside the NORTH wall of the house. Putting the upstairs furnace in the attic must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but having the drain line run all the way down the outside wall on the north side shows some serious lack of thinking. Then again, we’ve been in this house almost nine years and this is the first time we’ve had a serious problem, so I suppose we just chalk it up to a colder-than-usual winter, pull up our hoodies and move on.

Now the real reason for this message–Happy Birthday celebration day. Best wishes for the coming year.


Happy Birthday from us to you!

I have a recommendation for the apron fabric – what about bed sheets? They are very durable and if you find a sale table at a linen shop like Bed & Bath or Linens & Things, you can find some pretty prints or plains or stripes… whatever you like.

Tom McCubbin

An old-fashioned winter must mean that it’s a cold one. I remember a few of those when I was a kid growing up in eastern Washington, but in California I think it would mean a wet winter, rather than this new kind of dry and warm winter.

Love reading your accounts!


Maggie, I follow your thinking, but the drain line makes a more than 2-story run, from the attic to the foundation, where it makes a turn and exits through the foundation wall. During yesterday’s defrosting, husband insulated all the pipes he could access and the furnace contractor who came the first time installed a relief value on the line under the house, so we’re reasonably sure the ice forms somewhere in that long drop from the attic-but we have no idea where. I suspect this is one of those things we’ll just have to live around in these colder-than-usual years. I do know that it’s still warmer in my house than in yours so I can jolly well cope!