“Keep drapes closed and pretend it is a lovely day outside.”

Last April we finally found a Sunday featuring good roads and good weather, allowing us to visit my family to celebrate Christmas. Originally the get together was scheduled the preceding December, but an ice storm, followed by an intense winter of Sunday’s with bad road conditions, conspired to postpone the trip until April.

This Christmas we decided to take a run at Christmas early, so yesterday was the day of the big get together. My youngest sister hosted the event, preparing an allergen free feast. She not only prepared a turkey dinner with all the fixings, she also baked homemade bread, and Chelsea Buns. And that wasn’t all! My other sister, and my Mom, baked a lemon meringue pie from scratch, using freshly squeezed lemon juice, and two perfect apple pies. The lemon meringue was a particular treat, as concentrated lemon juice is laced with preservatives and off limits.

It was a lovely visit, with my two sisters, their partners, my niece, and my Mom. We had a good old chin wag!

The weather was cooperative, but not perfect. The first thirty minutes of the three hour trip were spent driving through a light blowing snow, that melted on contact, so that the road was wet and visibility was slightly obscured. Then it was clear until we came close to Lake Ontario, where we encountered more blowing snow, and heavy traffic. The drive back was similar, snow at either end of the trip, sweet and clear in the middle.

It was great to see my Mom, who is driving to Florida in two weeks for her annual stay there, she is a Snow Bird. She is fit and spritely, and visits the gym to workout regularly. She and my youngest sister are planning a visit to the gym this morning! My two sisters live near each other and are taking a tax course together, which they say they are enjoying. I shudder at that, I hate taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, budgeting. My youngest sister is on vacation this coming week, a staycation which will include taxating! [I’m makin’ up my own words again, taxating!]

We returned to a warm house, and a happy cat! Mist gets concerned when we gad about in the winter, convinced we will forget to light the fire, the centre of her known universe and alter of her winter worship. Yesterday morning before we left for our visit, Attila built a hefty fire, which carried the warm temperature in the house through the whole day.

When we arrived home it was 8:30 p.m., time to light another fire in the masonry heater. After building the fire and getting it going, Attila unloaded the car, and then began to flag. And no wonder, it was a long and exciting day! I sent him off to bed, and stayed up with the fire until close to midnight. The fire must be watched closely near the end of the burn, so that the dampers can be shut as soon as the last flame flickers; otherwise there is serious heat loss out the chimney. By the time the fire died out, I was very tired and ready for a good night’s rest!

The bedroom where I sleep is not heated, and I have been keeping the door closed during the day. The temperature in there has been 11C, as it has been other winters. This winter though, that is too cold for me, and is affecting my sleep. I awake stiff and sore from “huddling” in the bed, during my sleep, and the duration of my rest is shortened. Last night I wore a sweater with a hood to bed, and it made quite a difference. 15C is the ideal temperature for a comfortable night’s rest, which gives me something to aim for.

It has been storming all day, lots and lots and lots of snow! Attila called to say he was working through his lunch hour, nothing new there, and mentioned that tomorrow we are expecting a winter storm. I looked out the window at all that snow out there, and watched more billowing out the sky, and though, “a storm, this isn’t a storm, tomorrow is the storm, but not today, yikes”!

I am cooking some one pot meals that can be kept in the cooler, and heated on the propane stove, for easy meals when the power fails again. If there is a storm, the power will fail. Well, it already went out once this afternoon, but it came back within minutes.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SNOW SQUALL WATCH IN EFFECT
-1°C
Date: 2:44 PM EST Monday 17 November 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 99.9 kPa
Visibility: 2 km
Temperature: -0.5°C
Dewpoint: -0.8°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: SSE 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -2

Quote

“Keep drapes closed and pretend it is a lovely day outside.”
My Mom, today re the snow squalls. Way to go Mom!

Tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to “Keep drapes closed and pretend it is a lovely day outside.”

  1. Maggie says:

    We lost the hydro for an hour or so, just as we were preparing dinner. We ate it the way it was, not too bad. We were sitting on the sofa chatting when the hydro flickered on. We looked at each and leaped up, to flush toilets, run dishwater for dishes, put in a load of laundry, move much needed items from the refrigerator to the cooler, and to begin cooking tomorrow night’s dinner. We expect to lose the hydro again, because that is just what happens!
    I will leave the candles and flashlights out, because we will probably need them again before this day ends!

  2. Sorry to hear you’re having problems with your electricity! It seems such a regular event, have you ever considered getting a generator? I mean, just to give you power when you truly need it rather than actually supply the entire house every moment the power is out?

    I haven’t heard anything at all about any kind of storm coming through, but the next several days we’re supposed to have very frigid air coming down from the north and that will be creating a whole bunch of lake effect snow. Even here, we’ve gotten about 4-5 inches of snow already, which was quite a surprise. We don’t usually get such a large amount so quickly, not this early in the season.

    So glad you had a wonderful time with your family! All the food and fun times sound lovely!

  3. Irene Bean says:

    My goodness you’ve been busy!

    Losing power has always been a 30 second adventure before it turns into a nuisance. Unfortunately, since my dependence on 02 has increased, no electricity is a scary thing for me, I have back up tanks that could last about 6-8 hours.

    I turn my heat down to 60 at night. Most Americans don’t turn their thermostats down that low, but it works for me.

  4. Maggie says:

    Teri, our country house has had frequent power outages, right from the beginning. Generators are wonderful, but $$, far too costly to install and operate for the likes of us. The seasonal people have them, you can hear them roaring like train engines all over the countryside when the power is out. We have a small generator that can be used in emergencies when the power is out for more than a few days, to replenish the freezers. It is a very big deal to drag out and use though, and it means cables running through the exterior doors for the hours that it is running. We have done, and were glad of it, but we are gladder not to have to use it.

    Snow squalls are called for in our area until Friday, which means tricky driving and about 50 cm of snow over the next few days. Driving will be dangerous, and apparently the power outage today was the result of a vehicle accident down the road from us. We are prepared now, our meals all cooked and in the coolers, as well as staples like milk and butter. We are ready for it!

    We are very near the shores of Georgian Bay, and the lake effect is extreme here, we get a lot of storms and a lot of snow.

  5. Maggie says:

    Reenie, I hope you don’t lose power often, that is a worry you do not need! So glad to hear you have your backup tanks, which allows you quite a bit of leeway in a power outage.

    60F at night you say, lets see, that would be 15.6 C, perfect! I like to sleep under the comforter, so 15C is cool enough to make that a cozy experience. You were saying that you get a good 11 hours of sleep at night, I am so envious! I seldom sleep more than seven hours at the most, usually after six hours I am wide awake and ready to roar. Once or twice in my life I have slept for just over eight hours, it was an amazing experience. Everyone is different!

  6. Irene Bean says:

    When I added the apartment for my mother and knowing she would be on oxygen, we considered a generator for a nanosecond. They are very expensive and I was intimidated by the operating rules – concerns of ruining our entire electrical system if the switches weren’t switched properly. And if one installed a generator that did everything automatically it was even more expensive.

    Your post has reminded me to call the power company tomorrow to do an annual confirmation that I’m on their list of high risk customers in the event we lose power. Though I live in a rural area, it’s not as remote as your area.

    Thanks for transcribing the temperature numbers. I’m a math-dummy. But now you’ve given me a reference point.

  7. Maggie says:

    Glad to know your on a list for immediate service Reenie! Those generators are very expensive, we priced them, then forgot about them. It is interesting here, that the local working people don’t have them, can’t afford them. BUT the seasonal buildings, the vacationers, have them, and those empty buildings are supplied with hydro despite winter power failures, even though there is no one in them. It is a crazy world!!!
    This morning we have high winds, and more snow squalls, and electricity, so far!

  8. NORA says:

    Keeping the drapes closed. I’ve had to do that in Fl. and here in NC because the summers are so hot. It really takes the wind out of my sails.

    I’m glad you had such a nice time with your family and had all those delicious foods and a good chin wag. I just recently heard that expression from a friend in London.

    Happy you are home safe and sound. It sounds like living through your winters take a lot of time and effort. Inner strength. I’d probably perish.

    I loved what you wrote about Mist….”Alter of winter worship” that is perfect.

    59* to sleep. Reens at 60* and I have a friend in Alaska who keeps her home at 62* right through the winter. I can not do that. I have to keep the birds warm. Especially Roo who is elderly. It does bother my lungs. I do not like warm air. I am always turning the heat down and then up depending on what is going on.

    I have a small space heater in our room for the birds. In order to keep this place warm I have to keep the heat at either 73* or 74*. It does not feel that warm though. The high ceilings don’t do much to keep the heat secure and our windows are drafty. The front of the apt. is much cooler even at those temps than the back where we basically live. The heating system here leaves much to be desired.

  9. Maggie says:

    Nora, you too! It really does help in the summer heat, to close the drapes against the sun during the day. I am not good in the heat, I melt. Attila tells me that I have northern blood flowing in my veins.

    The context of my Mom’s comment is the frigid north winter. Mom grew up in Parry Sound District, where the winters were cold, and snowy, and we are very close to where she grew up. Granny and Grandpa’s house, where she grew up, is big, uninsulated, and drafty, she remembers all too well how cold, grey, white, and bleak, the winters can be. A few bright lights in the living room, with the curtains closed, can help you forget.

    Interesting comments about heating temperatures Nora. Birds are delicate creatures, it must keep you busy keeping conditions optimal for them. It must be a labour of love! 🙂

    We heat with a masonry wood heater in the country, and a forced air system at the little house in the city. The masonry heater heats primarily via thermal mass, it heats the objects in the room, not the air. The objects are warm to the touch, so that you do not lose any body heat by touching them. It is much easier to tolerate lower temperatures, because one if never cooled down by touching cool object in the home. This is very different from the forced air heating system at our little house. There, the air is heated and distributed around the house. Objects must be warmed by the air, and are usually cooler than the air, so that touching them cools one down a bit. The very same temperature that is comfortable with thermal mass heating, is chilling with forced air heating. I prefer the thermal mass heat, but I am willing to give it all up for a thermostat!!!!

    Nora, I could not manage this place without my partner, Attila. He manages the wood supply, which is our source of heat. He also clears the snow, which I could not do. Most of the rest of the tasks for taking care of the house I could handle. But not those two, they would be too much for me. I don’t think I would perish here without Attila, but I would be living very differently without his input.

  10. Bex says:

    Ceiling fans in a room with high ceilings are amazing aids in keeping the hot air down nearer the floor. Just be sure the ceiling fan is switch to turn the proper way, one way directs the air downward (for winter) and the other way pulls the air upward (for summer).

    I like cool. The dogs like it even cooler (although Em is getting on in years and she does like her creature comforts more now), but I keep the temp here set at 62F most of the time. I will turn it down to 60 for overnight. We both have duvets on our beds and they keep us totally toasty all night. Now and then I’ll splurge and turn the heat up to 64 but not higher than that! I’m hearing a few complaints from the lobsterman of the group lately about it being so chilly in here… so I’m thinking that this winter might see it a bit warmer now and again if he’s home all day.

    Funny about the pies you had – I asked Paul what kind of pie I should make for Thanksgiving (it’s just the 2 of us) (and we are having lobster/fish casserole as our main dish) and he laughingly said “How about lemon meringue pie!” – haha. There is no way I could manage that one! Although I’d love to eat it, but it’ll be apple pie, a tried and true one for the likes of this aging cook!

  11. DH and I live in a world between Nora’s warmth and everyone else’s coolness, we have a programmable thermostat and have it set at 72F (22C) during the day and 68F (20C) at night. Summer and winter, the drapes are closed through the morning. In the summer they’re kept closed until about 11AM to keep the warming sun out. In the winter they’re closed at least until that time just to keep colder air at bay. (In the winter the sun is low enough that it doesn’t come in the living room windows, except for maybe an hour very early in the morning.) On a truly cold and blustery day, I’d keep the curtains closed against the wind if it was hitting the front of the house. Fortunately, due to where we are on the lee of a hill the only time we have a wind hitting us directly is from the South (the back of the house), and even then we have large pine trees breaking most of the wind.

  12. Maggie says:

    You are so right about the ceiling fans Bex! We have cathedral ceilings on the main living floor, and if I am feeling too hot from the fireplace heat, I turn it off and the heat rises and is stored near the peak. If I am feeling a little chilly, I turn it on and within minutes the air is comfortably warm. Even in homes without high ceilings, fans are a boon. We have ceiling fans in every room at our little house in the city, and they keep the air moving, which cools the body on a hot day. I can tolerate much higher temperatures if a fan is moving the air around!

    The lemon meringue pie my sister and mother made was outrageously good, but they both agreed, way too much work! They did if for me, because of my allergy, and I have to say that it really did taste like love made it!

  13. Maggie says:

    Teri, I find it fascinating that we learn to live with our homes, developing a kind of relationship with it, getting to know it idiosyncrasies, and adapting to them. I don’t think I bothered much with this when I lived in apartments. There is something about paying those heating and electricity bills that arrests one’s attention!

    For years I have been thinking about shutters, insulated shutters for the windows. The drawback is the cost, and the fact that they would be a custom fit, and so could not be packed up and used at the place of residence. But I think they could function very well. I am always surprised at how little product development by the big companies is directed at simple solutions to heat loss from windows, among other things!

  14. Nora says:

    I have learned to look at where we dwell as an entity. There are requirements, duties, chores, observations that all need tending to keep the place comfy and working. I’ve learned to follow the sun when it comes to blinds, drapes, and open windows. The right way to turn the blinds to keep warmth in etc. It seems like I am always doing something in this respect. So many people in this community do not open windows, or blinds! How do they do it?

    This year I am putting little rugs rolled up by the doors to keep out floor drafts. Sheers in all the doorways to help keep the heat in our rooms and the back of the apt. There is no real warming up the front for too long because it is drafty. By the time it does get warm I am choking on dry air. I don’t use the ceiling fan in winter because even with the right direction it makes things too chilly.

    I grew up on Long Island, NY and we had blizzards often when I was young. Then things changed for quite some time and now ol man winter is back.

    Thermal mass is very interesting. So, we need to get you a thermostat?:)

    You and Attila are a team.

  15. Maggie says:

    Nora, I am with you in asking, “how do they do it”? Perhaps they no one is there most of the time, and when they are home they just adjust the heating system or the air conditioning to maintain the desired microclimate. I don’t remember ever paying this much attention to the conditions in my home, during my youth. Then when I was on my own with the girls, I started to focus on these things, out of necessity at first, then more because it was so much more satisfying to “work with” my home.

    Our ceiling fan is only beneficial after a full burn in the heater, when the excess heat rises and is captured near the peak, the fan brings it down to us. The rest of the time the fan creates a breeze, and the moving air can create a chilly feeling.

    Thermostats! I dream of them. There is no such thing as a thermostat for a masonry heater, we have to watch the weather reports carefully, so adjust the burns, because the heater responds slowly. Too much heat is easy to deal with, I just open some of the doors to unheated rooms and whoosh, the hot air disperses and the temperature falls. Not enough heat is a little trickier, I have heavy indoor clothing that I add in layers, sometimes to the point of wearing a parka, toque, and gloves, but not very often.

    The thermostat at the little house in the city is a dream come true, 🙂