Archive for the ‘Amusing tales’ Category

Tipi Heroes

January 25, 2013

Okay, these people, who reportedly habitually sleep out in a tipi all winter, considerably further north in Maine than us, are definitely hard-core and definitely qualify as Heroes of the Cold House (or, cold native-style shelter, as it were.)  I can’t fully commend them on their overall efforts at lowering their environmental impact (unless quite a few of their 11 kids are adopted), but for sure they deserve admiration for trying out this way of life.  (Also, I can commend them on managing life with 11 kids, which boggles my mind much more than their cold-tipi-sleeping…)

I can’t really compare our lifestyle to theirs, but our sleeping plans are a bit similar.  They mention using an electric blanket, which is also a critical part of our strategy for sleeping in an unheated bedroom.  Our bedroom, though, at least has solid walls, and rarely goes down into the 30F range– while their’s must routinely go well below freezing, if not below 0F.

Actually, it’s not quite clear in the story whether they use fire inside the tipi– in the video clip, Mrs. Winters (great name) says they never have heat in the tipi– but in other photos, you see her wheeling some very large pieces of firewood towards the tipi, with mention that Mr. Winters “had started a fire inside”.  And in another photo, you see a small fire in the tipi.  But they appear to have two tipis, so maybe one is a hang-out tipi where they have fires, and the other is for sleeping and totally unheated?  It would seem considerably unpleasant to sleep in a tipi with a smoky wood fire burning inside– hard to imagine they would be doing that.

Anyway, I’m hoping we might get an invitation to go visit.  Also, this reminds me of an idea I had last winter:  to build an igloo in our yard, and offer overnights in it via Airbnb.  Also, I note a great advantage of their sleeping arrangement:  they are very unlikely ever to be infested with bed bugs, which can’t survive prolonged sub-freezing temps.


November 28, 2011

Conversation with arborist Kelly:

K:  You should draw a smiley face on that big log in the middle of your woodpile.

Me:  You think?  I don’t know.  Last year I put numbers on some of the wood, to help estimate how long it would last.   People made fun of me.

K:  You put numbers on your wood?  Are you a Virgo?

Me:  Wow.  Good guess.

K:  I knew you were a Virgo as soon as I saw your wood pile.

Me:  What?!  Come on.  That is a totally substandard wood pile.  That is not at all up to Virgo standards.  I mean, the whole tower on the right side is leaning over.

K:  See?  That’s the sort of comment that shows you’re a Virgo.

Cold Backyard People

January 27, 2011

I’m not sure whether these people are “my people” or not.  But I think they probably are.  I have to confess that for all the being-in-the-house-in-the-cold we’ve done, we do very little being-in-the-yard-in-the-cold.  I really can’t abide the idea of an outdoor propane heater, with all those BTU’s spending just a few scant seconds warming your body before going on to warm the planet– but the idea of “sitting out in the snow, drinking a Scotch and watching the sunset” is appealing, as is the concept of a cold-frame winter (or, at least, early spring) garden.

This we do have in common with the folks interviewed for the article: ““The difference between summer entertaining and winter entertaining is less people.”

School Closed — Heat Broken

December 10, 2010

Our local high school kids got the day off today, because the heating system broke.  I see a bunch of them milling around in the park across from my office.  Outside.  Where it’s currently 23º.  Surely the school building is warmer than 23º, even with the boiler only “operating at about 25%”?


Emergency! Cover The Oranges, And Wrap The Kids!

December 7, 2010

My brother and sister-in-law in Florida received an automated phone call from the Broward County School Department yesterday, warning of the “dangerously cold weather” coming over the next couple days.  Parents were advised to provide gloves, hats, etc. for the kids, and, according to my brother, to be “vigilant for cold-related dangers in general”.  My brother pulls my leg all the time, so I had to check, and in fact it’s true– the school district “declared a cold weather emergency, noting that “temperatures are predicted to be in the mid to upper 30’s for a couple of hours around sunrise both mornings” (emphasis mine).

Even with this “cold emergency”, Broward County’s nighttime low temps right now are warmer than our daytime high temps, and their daytime temps are about what we have mid-summer.  So it’s a little hard not to guffaw at this.  But I think it really does point out, yet again, that it takes some time to adapt to different temperature extremes.

Still, it seems a little extreme that my nephew was sent to school wearing his big winter parka, and returned home at the end of the day reporting that he had not taken it off all day.  Apparently, someone suggested that he keep it on, so he did.  If he’s already wearing parkas inside, I think he’s ready to visit me in the winter.

(Some previous similar amusement from Florida here.)

Flaming Desserts

November 29, 2010

Made Bananas Foster (flambé) last night at some friends’ house.  The bottle comes with a lot of “DO NOT”s on the back– including “DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT FOR FLAMING DISHES” (yeah, whatever)– but nowhere does it say “DO NOT USE FOR HOME HEATING”.  Idea…


October 18, 2010

For reasons I cannot fathom, J. strenuously objects to my yeti hat (which I wore this evening, being unable to remember where I stored my more traditional black toque.)  However, today she sent me this, suggesting (I assume) that we buy/make/commission one or more of these frightening head garments:

No doubt they are quite warm.  The book seems to be out of print, but I will discuss with my friends who knit things whether they can fashion something similar.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

February 27, 2010

The Guardian posted an article today entitled “Five Of The Best Interiors Blogs”– and guess whose blog was on that top-five list?!  Well, not ours. But, the author did list Cold House Journal among five runner-up “Other homes blogs we love…”

Which is extremely complimentary, but also kind perplexing.  All the other blogs in the article focus on interior design, cool and funky home furnishings, fabric, color, patterns, and in general how to make your home beautiful, appealing, and awesome-looking.  Whereas our blog is about, well, how to deal with being cold in your house, and features ultra-low-fashion accessories such as yeti hats and square pieces of rock.  Maybe we got some points for the custom polished copper-sheet heat shield and hand-laid travertine hearth (with matching dinner-table trivets) we built for the wood stove? (Seems like a stretch, but it’s all I got.)

Anyway, I sort of feel like we crashed a black-tie event wearing Bean boots.  Sorry if we’re making a mess.  Thanks for inviting us.  We’ll step back outside now.

Cold Library Journal

January 23, 2010

An astute friend spotted this article a few weeks back (also from the Times) which discussed the temperature in New York City’s public libraries.  As you will read, in Manhattan, Bronx, and Staten Island, there are contracts which promise compensation to library employees for any periods of time that the temperature falls below 68º.  I am not making this up.

When the reporter went around to a few library branches to check their actual temps, he found they ranged from 73 to 79º.  I cannot imagine trying to stay awake reading a book in a room artificially heated to almost 80.  For that I would demand comp time!

Also in this article we learn that the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers “suggests buildings maintain temperatures of 67 to 82 degrees for ‘comfort purposes.’ ”  82?  For reals?  The only voices of reason quoted are the government of the UK, which describes “reasonable” workplace temperatures as “at least 16 degrees Celsius, or a hair below 61 degrees Fahrenheit”, and President Jimmy Carter who asked us all to turn our thermostats down to no higher than 65 by day, and “much lower” at night.  Where did this sensibility go?


January 14, 2010

There are still comments trickling in on the TV news website from our 15 seconds of confused quasi-fame.  J. forwarded this excerpt from one to me today:

“…What is bad about this cold house story is that it is highly recommended that you leave your house if it gets 55 or below it is a safety precaution for many reasons.”

This made us laugh pretty hard.  Ha!  Ha! we laughed.  What the “many reasons” are that one should “leave your house” if it gets below 55º (13ºC), we have no idea.  Even funnier is the idea of running out of the house as a “safety precaution” to save our lives from the cold, only to wind up outside in the driveway where it’s 45 degrees colder still.

I’m here to tell you that we’ve been sleeping in a bedroom that is BELOW 50 DEGREES for weeks now, and there have been no discernible adverse health effects, except that Max the Cat has taken to sleeping directly on top of me, which left me feeling a bit sore this morning.