Toques for Cats

Mist is convinced that the end of the world is nigh. I have explained the unusual circumstances to her, but she would have none of it! I tried moving her Kitty Basket Bed directly in front of the masonry heater, and still she would have none of it. Convinced that I had failed to understand the situation, she positioned herself in front of the masonry heater and yowled, at the top of her lungs. The last flames of the fire were still flickering. I had done everything I could to resolve her distress, but the vast relentless cold around us has had every advantage. Finally, she curled up on the sofa and fell asleep. I hope she sleeps until tonight, when we start gaining on the heating situation.

Does anyone make toques for cats? Would Mist wear one? These are pressing issues at our house this morning.

It was -37C by the kitchen window this morning. 15C (59F) by the masonry heater this morning, 10C (50F) by the exterior wall in the same room, and colder in the bedroom. The objects in the main room were all 10C, cold to the touch and heat snatching.

I added a toque, neck scarf, and socks to my overnight wardrobe, and slept comfortably through the night. Getting out of bed in the morning was a shocking affair! However, clothes warmed, piece by piece, in front of a roaring fire helped the morning rituals to proceed. I am still wearing the toque and scarf, and many layers of clothing, including a down vest!

The light in the sky, when Attila chugged off to work this morning, was a pale blue colour, that I have not seen before. Attila’s car was suffering from the cold, even though it had been running for more than fifteen minutes, warming up. He drove off with the hand warmers he received for Christmas in his pocket. He will need them today!

I would say this is winter as my grandparents knew it, but that is not so. They had an outdoor privy and no running water in the house. Running water in the house is great, when it works. It is a mixed blessing though, when it gets this cold. Pipes freeze, and repairs can be costly, so extreme diligence and extra heating investments are required.

The heat from a roaring fire in the masonry heater can usually be felt across the room, not so today. To feel the heat I had to stand three feet from the fire, where it is usually uncomfortably warm. The fires this morning will only maintain the coolish temperature in the house. Hopefully this afternoon, when the temperature rises to -18C, the masonry heater will be able to catch up, and increase the indoor temperature significantly.

I just discovered something new. The touchpad on the laptop will not work with gloved hands. I have to take the gloves off when I want to use the touchpad (the mouse function). I have a pair of gloves with the fingers cut out of them, but I can’t find them! Note to self, prepare an indoor polar survival kit, with fingerless gloves, neck scarf, and a wool hat with ties.

What is this obsession with snow, and temperature? I guess you have to be here to really feel the significance of -37C, and heavy snow squalls, and blizzards. This kind of weather demands respect, and our full attention. The cold is shrewd and penetrating. Heating exclusively with wood brings the demands of the weather very up close and personal.

The National Film Board of Canada funded a film called First Winter, which is interesting, and provides a realistic vision of pioneer life during the winter. The plot portrays an extreme and tragic example of pioneer life experiences in rural Canada. The family portrayed seems rather isolated, and I am not convinced this was common. Pioneers quickly adapted to their environment, preserving food and stockpiling fuel for the winter months. Also, frequently groups of pioneers were given contiguous land grants, where small communities instantly formed on arrival. These communities had much to recommend them, and mediated the harshness of the climate in winter. However supportive the community, the necessity to preserve food and fuel for winter was paramount to survival. There were no thermostats, or cars, or hydro, or telephones, or internet, or any of the luxuries I personally enjoy very much. What they did have was a community of people sharing the need to survive, a common goal, and adequate resources to tap for survival. All in all, once there is enough food and shelter available, a balanced community would be next on my list of must haves. I think they led happier lives, for the most part, than we do today.

Terra checked up on our little house in the city. She told us the neighbours have kept the driveway ploughed, and that all is well. I love the neighbourhood. We keep the thermostat in the little house set to 7C. Last winter we burned through one tank of oil during the winter months. This year I doubt one tank of oil will do the job! Hopefully we will be able to visit during February, and will check the fuel level then to see if we need a second winter fuel delivery. Fortunately we have been saving up for such an eventuality, as it costs close to $1000 to fill up the oil tank.

I continue to look at refrigerators, for the little house in the city. There is no rush though, because our visits in the winter are infrequent, and the cooler works well when we are there. I have started to put aside a few dollars here and there, when I can spare them. Hopefully next spring we will have saved enough for an inexpensive refrigerator, and we will be visiting enough to arrange a delivery.

Every winter, since we bought the little house in the city, I have thought to spend time there in the winter. And every winter the heating and snow removal burden at the country house eats every available ounce of free time and energy. Who knows though, winter is not over yet, I may get down there for a visit during the next ten weeks of winter weather.

Worldly Distractions


-37°C (-34.6F)
Date: 6:00 AM EST Wednesday 22 January 2014
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -36.0°C
Dewpoint: -39.8°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: calm


“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
Yoko Ono

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We down here near Boston are in a deep freeze right now. Only got about 4 inches of snow in the “blizzard” but it’s darn cold… still, the dogs keep bugging to go out… now if only we all could have Kip’s fur coat… the oil bills would be much lower!

Joan Lansberry

Wow! It’s sure cold there, I can’t begin to imagine it. Hats for cats? The image of that ‘grumpy’ cat comes to mind, with a sort of pointy topped knitted hat. I too wonder about the pioneers, but in the inverse. How did those in the southern deserts ever stand the 120F (49C) temperatures without AC?