Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jogging My Memory of Winter

I have, over the years, gotten spoiled with my creature comforts. Gotten used to electricity, hot water, and central heat. TV, the internet, all that.

As a boy in Baton Rouge, whose winters seldom had snow but were often as cold and nasty as the season gets up here in Oregon, we lived in a small house whose heat was provided by a fair-sized, but single, space heater in the living room. My mother kept a pan of water on top of the metal grate to help keep the air from drying out, and it was usually too hot in the living room and considerably colder in the bedroom down the hall I shared with my brother. No big deal.

We used to go camping in the Boy Scouts during winter where we'd hike five miles into a site, pitch tents, and get up the next morning to find the soup we'd left simmering in a big pot over the campfire coals frozen solid.

Until my wife and I bought our first house, every place we lived had space heaters or baseboard units We had an oil heater in Port Townsend, but we used a free-standing woodstove for most of our heat there, being afraid the oil furnace would blow up, having read Stephen King's The Shining.

Which is to say that I don't really miss those days. But this morning, bright and early, our force-air natural gas furnace died. Probably the igniter; maybe some other circuit in the control module. Had juice, motor was running, but no fire. Not a major repair, you unplug the old one, toss it, plug the wires into the new one, all done. Happened once before, a dozen years or so ago. Happened on a weekday.

Finding a furnace repairman or even parts if you want to essay attemping to fix it yourself on Palm Sunday, however, is passing difficult; which is to say that neither were to be had, and the heat still isn't on. Maybe tomorrow.

Temperature tonight supposed to be in the high thirties, rainy and fifty-four tomorrow. Fortunately, we have extra blankets, and a wood-stove insert in our living room fireplace, so between those and a little portable electric heater I used for the garage back when the weight machine was out there, I am in no immediate danger of freezing. Plus the hot tub. And the dogs.

My lovely spouse is out of town on a business trip, and spending the next couple of days in balmy Charleston, SC. (Balmy now, after the tornadoes blew through there Friday and Saturday.)

Doesn't feel much like spring at my house ...


Bobbe Edmonds said...

Dianne's in Charleston?? Next time, stick me in the carry-on bag.

I would love to go back home for a weekend.

Steve Perry said...

Yep, she's only gonna be there a couple, days, then goes to Savanna, then Chicago. Says it's a lovely town, and loves the crabcakes and fried shrimp ...

Jas. said...

Heh. I would've preferred my memory jogged of warmer times. Instead, you reminded me of a winter vacation in Ireland with the family when I was 17.

It was fun for about a day and a half, until the night in the grandparents' unheated farmhouse bedroom (they slept next to the peat stove in the kitchen). No dogs ... no space heater ... not even enough blankets. Saw my breath in the air that night, woke up with something nasty the next morning and spent the next two weeks in utter misery.

That was nearly a quarter century ago.

I never did go back to Ireland.

I hope you fared better.

Steve Perry said...

Well, I didn't freeze during the night. Got a call back from the folks who fixed it last time, saying there were no longer in the furnace-fixing biz. Put in a call to another repair place, they said they'd have somebody out here by noon-thirty, he hasn't made it yet.

I can dress warm enough, save for my hands. Kind of chilly in the office; ever so often, I have to stick my hands down in front of the little heater -- puts out about as much heat as a hair dryer. No sunshine today, so no passive solar.