Posted tagged ‘furnace’

“I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire… mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?”

November 5, 2017

Outside is dark, damp and cloudy. A wind blows every now and then and adds to the misery of the day. My heat went on during the night. It must have been really cold as the thermostat is set at 65˚. Before I had pets, I used to keep it set at 62˚ at night, but that’s too cold for Gracie and Maddie. I found that out when I patted them. Their ears and their body fur were cold. That’s why the heat is higher.

Last night, Gracie was panting so much I kept waking up. I did the food, treat, water thing, and she still was panting and moving around. I finally fell asleep around four. When I woke up, Gracie was in the middle of the couch lying right beside me, and my legs were bent to accommodate her. It was another bad back this morning. She, of course, is now sleeping soundly. I am tempted to keep waking her up, but that’s a human response she wouldn’t understand. Besides, she’d just go to her crate and sleep, probably snore too just to drive me crazy.

Even though all the stores are now opened on Sunday just like every other day, I still have a bit of solemnity for the day probably leftover from when I was a kid. I don’t big time shop on Sundays, and I tend to stay close to home. I watch a little TV, usually football, and I often nap. I honor Sunday as a day of rest.

I was browsing through youtube the other night looking for something to watch. I noticed the film choice of Thousand Plane Raid. Seeing that zoomed me right back to Africa but to Niamey, Niger this time, not Ghana. It was Christmas vacation, and I was traveling with a couple of friends. The trip didn’t go as planned, but trips seldom do in Africa. The bus broke down twice. Each time, we had to wait for the driver’s assistant to hitch back to Ougadougou for parts. That put us way behind time so we had to stop for the night at a post office for which the bus carried mail. The night was freezing. It was harmattan time and we were closer to the desert than in Ghana. I had only a piece of cloth to keep me warm, and it didn’t. Anyway, by the time we got to Niamey, I had defrosted. We stayed at the Peace Corps hostel. In those days U.S. embassies showed movies on Saturday nights. We found out where and went to the screening. Yup, it was Thousand Plane Raid. You don’t need to know any more about the movie. The title is the whole plot. That night was the worst. The movie was shown in an open room of sorts with 4 low concrete walls and no screens.  I was eaten alive by mosquitos bigger than my hand. They mimicked the movie and dive bombed in groups to attack me. I think I left before the end of the movie, but I was so woozy from loss of blood my memories just blurred. I only remember the name of the move and the hordes of mosquitos.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”

June 12, 2017

The flowers are all bought. My trunk and backseat floor were filled with plants. I needed to take out a second mortgage to pay for them, but I am pleased with all the different plants and their colors. The perennials will go out front, the herbs in the wooden deck boxes and the other plants in a variety of pots, mostly on the deck. I also bought one hanging plant for the deck. I am a sweaty mess from pushing the cart and wandering through the flower rows in the sun. I’m not a pretty sight.

One of the things I love about having the herbs in the deck boxes is going outside to snip the ones I need. I always feel a bit like Julia Childs as I snip a little basil, some rosemary, and a few chives.

It is really hot and is already 87˚, which will be the high for the day. It will get down to 66˚ tonight. My air conditioner is on, and the house is pleasant. I have to go out later, but I’m waiting until late afternoon hoping it will be a bit cooler.

I never used to mind the heat, but the older I get, the less tolerant I am of the heat and the cold. My furnace cranks all winter, and my central AC is on now. I have become a creature of comfort. I make no excuses. I think I deserve it.

My plastic flamingo and my Travelocity gnome are still here in their winter quarters. They will be the last two summer decorations to be placed outside. I do wish I had a small band to play John Phillip Sousa’s music as we march to the deck. The Stars and Stripes Forever would do just fine.

I’m still wishing I had a tree house in the backyard. It would be my summer vacation spot. I’d make sure Gracie could join me. The skylight would let the stars in. I could lie on my back and look for the constellations or watch the summer meteor showers. A small heater and an outside light would let me watch the snow fall. That would be glorious.

I do love summer on my deck. Soon enough it will be my favorite spot. We’ll have movie nights. We’ll eat barbecue and potato salad then much on popcorn and movie candy as we watch some great movies and some B science fiction films which always make us laugh. In winter I am a bit of a hermit. In summer I am the consummate hostess.

“Winter bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.”

January 3, 2017

We have rain and 44˚. The low for the day will be 43˚. This is not winter in New England, but winter is impatiently waiting in the wings. Daytime tomorrow will be 50˚ but tomorrow night will be in the 20’s. The rest of the week will be 30’s during the day and 20’s at night. That’s a warm winter in New England!

The winter weather never mattered when I was a kid. I still had to walk to and from school every day. It wasn’t miles or feet of snow, but it was cold, freezing cold. The blasts of wind from across the field at the foot of my street whipped through my jacket. I remember using my mittened hands to protect my ears, red and numb from the cold. The hat my mother insisted I wear never kept my ears warm, just the top of my head. I’d hurry to get to the street below the field, the one with houses on both sides, buffers from the wind. It was a straightaway from there to school.

The middle of my classroom was always warm. Near the windows was chilly so most of us wore sweaters over our uniforms. The girls wore blue skirts and white blouses. The boys wore white shirts and blue pants. We could wear any shoes and socks. I don’t remember what shoes I wore, but I remember knee socks and pink long underwear which warmed my legs almost to the hem of my skirt.

In winter the classroom was never quiet. Even if we were silently reading, we could hear the hissing and wheezing of steam escaping from the radiators. I think that’s the sound I most miss from long ago winters.

My house has forced hot air from my gas furnace. I keep the daytime temperature at 68˚. That used to be warm enough. It isn’t anymore so I wear a sweatshirt around the house. The air blows and the house gets warm. I know this system is far more efficient than the radiators were, but the radiators did far more than spew heat. Coming in from the freezing cold, I could sit with my back to the pipes and quickly get warm. My mittens on the top of the radiator sizzled as they dried. My shoes with their curled toes looked like something Aladdin would wear after they’d dried under the radiator. When I was falling asleep, the radiators would hiss, crackle and even groan when they were warming the house. It was a comforting sound. I knew heat was coming.

“Fine old Christmas, with the snowy hair and ruddy face, had done his duty that year in the noblest fashion, and had set off his rich gifts of warmth and color with all the heightening contrast of frost and snow.”

December 16, 2016

Outside looks lovely from the window. I see sun, a blue sky, and only a slight breeze, but all of those are deceiving. Cold, freezing cold, is today’s weather. Wear layers is what we’re being told. I’m thinking 6 or 7 layers may not be enough. It is 14˚, and today’s high will be 19˚. Tomorrow and Sunday will be warm but rainy. It could reach 60˚ on Sunday. Mother Nature is indecisive.

My house is mostly decorated. The tree could use a few more ornaments so I’ll add that to my to-do list. My fake scrub pine has a dead set of lights so I’ll have to replace it. Friends are coming to dinner. The menu is set but I need to get dessert and some cheese. I have sort of a casual flow chart on cooking the meal. We’re having pork tenderloin, honeyed carrots and baby potatoes with romano cheese.

My family calls it the Christmas bug. It all started with my grandmother, the one who had eight kids. My mother, my Aunt Bunny and my Uncle Jack were bitten. Their houses were filled with Christmas. They baked and they kept baking. They loved to shop for presents. They always chose the best gifts. Many of my cousins were also bitten, as was I and my two sisters. We love all the hoopla of Christmas and traditions teem. The gingerbread house construction started 33 years ago and has now passed to a second generation. Pinatas, too, are on a second generation. I used to fill them for my niece and two nephews, and now,  their kids can’t wait for Christmas Eve and pinata whacking. Five pinatas hang from the high railing on the second floor.

When I was a kid, my mother’s kitchen always had steamed windows when she was cooking. It was a small kitchen, almost a galley kitchen. The table was by the window. It had four chairs, just enough for my parents and my brother and me. My sister was a baby in a highchair. I can still recall images of that house, one side of a duplex. The stairs had a landing where I used to sit and color or read. Upstairs was the bathroom and two bedrooms. This house had gotten too small with the birth of my sister, and we would be moving soon but only down the street. I don’t even remember moving.

“Sometimes me think, ‘What is Friend?’ Then me say, ‘Friend is someone to share the last cookie with.'”

December 4, 2016

Huzzah! Huzzah! My laundry is clean. The hall is empty of filled laundry bags. It was my only accomplishment of the day, but I consider it a huge one. I did binge watch a Netflix series called Between. I reasoned that sitting with pillows behind my back was a necessity as my back was aching from the trips up and down the stairs. In between changing loads from the washer to the dryer I brought up exactly two Christmas decorations. If anyone asks, I can truthfully say I have started decorating.

My heat is cranking. It is cold, down to the 30’s. It is also a gray day. The bare branches have an eerie look against the sky, sort of a Halloween vibe. There isn’t even a breeze. I have to go out later but I’m not looking forward to it. The warm, cozy house is just so inviting.

Gracie has been in and out all morning. She is restless, and I have no idea why. She does like the cold weather so maybe that’s a reason. She does bark, but when I check, I don’t see anyone or anything. Maybe her barking is what keeps the critters at bay.

My sister and I had our usual Sunday conversation. Today we talked food as both of us were watching the food channel with its Christmas programs. Moe is deciding what she’ll make for Christmas Eve when the whole family comes. Fondue is already on her list. She’ll have two fondue pots, one with oil for meat and one with cheese for breads and vegetables. Onion dip, of course, is a must. My mother always had it so the tradition continues. Moe usually has something Mexican like chili verde or corn tortillas. My brother-in-law usually smokes a roast and some chicken. The roast gets cut into bites and is served with a sauce. I’d want a horseradish sauce. Moe is trying to decide which sweets. Whoopie pies and sugar cookies are a must. She’s thinking maybe peanut butter cookies with a kiss in the middle but that’s as far as she’s gotten.

Part of the fun of Christmas is the cooking and baking. The house usually smells great and I swear everything is delicious.

“The information age is so psychotic – without the cell phone and Internet, I would be drama free right now.”

September 25, 2014

I am back to myself again. The only aches and pains come from age.

The morning is dark, almost ominous. Everything is still. The house was cold when I woke up, down to 64˚. I broke my no heat vow. The house is now comfortable, and I am in my winter garb including slippers and a sweatshirt. I’m thinking it might be time to replace the back door screen with glass. That’s where Gracie’s dog door is, and when it’s cold, I have to keep the inside door shut, and Gracie can’t come and go at will. I’ve added that to my to do list for today. I’m also going to put a blanket on the bed. I was cold last night, and I know Gracie was too because she was leaning against me. It wasn’t comfortable.

Duke, the boxer I grew up with, was not allowed on furniture, including beds, but he always figured that only held true when we could see him. At night he’d sleep on the couch. We could hear him getting off when we walked down the stairs in the morning. When we went somewhere and Duke was home alone, the bedspreads would miraculously get circles in the middle, the sort a dog makes when turning around and around. We never did catch him at it. He was one smart dog.

Yesterday was computer day from hell. My Mac screen stayed black. The keyboard lit and the cursor worked, but the screen would die just after the apple appeared. I went crazy. I got my iPad and went hunting. One site told me to hold the shift key so it would open in safe mode. That didn’t work. I’d read my book for a while, but I kept stopping to stare at the computer. I hate computer problems, and I have this overwhelming need to solve them. I’d put my book down and try something else suggested by some poor computer illiterate with the same problem. I went from forum to forum. I felt like Diogenes wandering with my lamp looking not for an honest man but for a solution. I actually found one. It was five steps, and the woman who posted it had gotten the solution from Apple. The comments after the steps were from people thanking her which gave me encouragement and also let me know the problem was not the machine. It was a glitch from an Apple system automatic update that never quite got past the login screen. When my desktop appeared, I was Rocky running up the stairs of the art museum in triumph: computer 0,  me 1.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

November 25, 2013

Winter with all its bluster has arrived. Last night was another night of howling winds and chilling temperatures. I wore my lined jacket for the first time this year. 27˚ was a bit cold for just my sweatshirt.

Gracie and I went to the dump yesterday. I swear I saw armed guards with dogs watching men from a gulag work the mulch piles in the open field part of the dump or maybe it was just an optical illusion brought about by the cold wind gnawing at my bones. I’m not really sure. The dump, open to the wind, is always colder than the rest of the world.

My heat blasts almost continuously to keep the cold at bay. I don’t care. I will be comfy and warm in my house.

Yesterday I went out to fill the big bird feeder. I noticed it was low on seed and the birds were numerous, all sorts flying in and out, and I didn’t want them hungry. It was freezing on the deck, and I broke my record in filling the feeder. Some of the seeds fell to the deck so the spawns would have had dinner as well. The birds didn’t voice their thanks, but they came right back when I rehung the feeder. That was thanks enough. They are back in full force today.

My dance card for today is now empty. I went out for breakfast at nine, stayed a while and talked with my friend. When I got home, I read both papers, did all my puzzles, spoke with my sister on the phone then finally started writing KTCC. The morning had pretty much slipped away, but that’s okay as I have absolutely nothing planned for the rest of the day. I’m going to change into my comfy flannels, put on some warm socks with my slippers and while away the day. I may read or catalog shop for Christmas or maybe not. I love having choices every day.

“If you stand still outside you can hear it… Winter’s footsteps, the sound of falling leaves.”

October 27, 2013

If you looked up fall in the dictionary, they’d be a picture of today. The sun is shining, the sky is a pale blue and the breeze is brisk with a bit of a chill. Fall is in full burst. My front yard is filled with fallen leaves and pine needles. The grass doesn’t needed mowing any more. Yesterday my irrigation system was shut down for the season, and today I’ll clear the water from my back yard hoses. It’s time to close down the deck for the season though I’ll save a place to sit on a sunny day, my big wooden chair. I love fall, but I find it sad when fall begins to move toward winter.

Summer is always exuberant. It is warmth and colors and the sweet smell of flowers wafting through the air. Every morning I’d get the papers and then stop to look at my front garden. I’d lean against the car and marvel at the beauty of the flowers. I always noticed a few empty spots and would get excited at needing to buy new flowers. I can never have enough flowers. I’d finally pull myself away and go into the house, get my coffee and go outside on the deck. It takes me a long time to read the papers when I’m outside. I stop and watch the birds at the feeders and Gracie in the backyard. I listen to the singing. I raise my face to the sun and close my eyes. Summer fills me.

Fall always seems to have a faster pace than summer, and I think of October, nearing its end, as the bridge between fall and winter. Fall has a unique beauty when the leaves turn, and the trees are filled with color, muted color. My garden celebrates the season with fall flowers. The plants I put in last year were in full bloom this fall, and I was surprised as I had forgotten planting them. This year I added three more fall flowers, and they must have been happy to be planted as they bloomed a week or two later. Of all the seasons fall surprises me the most. The days are sometimes as warm as summer while the nights get downright cold. The sunlight slants in an odd direction. Darkness comes earlier and earlier.

My heat comes on in the mornings now. I can hear it as I’m waking up. The days seem to be warm enough to keep the furnace at bay, but I doubt that will last too much longer. Winter is coming.

“You can’t make anything idiot proof because idiots are so ingenious.”

October 7, 2011

Last night was one of those I can’t get to sleep nights. After the Tigers-Yankee thriller, I watched a few DVR’ed programs, played on my computer and still couldn’t get to sleep. Finally, about 3:00, we all crawled into bed. This morning Gracie woke me up by ringing her bells to go out around 9:30. The house was so cold I ran back upstairs and under the covers but not before I turned on the heat. Yup, I have heat.

I am an idiot. When the hall was painted last week, the painter turned off the emergency switch, and it only cost me $95.00 to turn it on again. While the service guy was here, I figured he might as well change the filter in the furnace, and when he did, he turned off some switch which caused the heat to stay off. I called the answering service and some woman questioned me about the switches. Not a tech person mind you, but an answering person. I finally got her to take the message and stop the inquisition. The service guy called and profusely apologized. He knew just what he had done and was on his way back here. I now have heat, just in time for the 70+° weather due this weekend.

My sister was born on Columbus Day, the real one, not the fake one enacted to give us all a long weekend. She loved having that day as her birthday because she was guaranteed a day off from school. I swear when she was young she thought we all had the day off in her honor.

As a kid, my favorite time of the year, besides summer and no school, was from October through the beginning of January. During those months we had Halloween, legal holidays off from school and holy days off like November 1st, All Saint’s Day, and December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception though we had to pay for those days off by attending mass. I guess it was a fair trade-off. We also had the school vacations of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

School was never painful those months. We knew a day off was never far away.

“Souvenirs are perishable; fortunately, memories are not”

October 6, 2011

The house was really chilly this morning. I was nestled under the covers, and Fern and Gracie were right beside me sharing their warmth. When I came downstairs, I decided to turn on the heat for just a while to warm up the house. The heat didn’t go on. I cursed. Nothing riles me more than stuff not working, stuff I have to call an expert to come and fix. I wish my family was more diverse. I think every family should have an electrician, a plumber and a generalist who can fix most anything else. It should be a rule. I know this will cost me big just for the guy to walk through the front door. I suppose finding out before it got really cold was a lucky break, but then people break arms and legs so that word has its downside.

Summer is making a return engagement this weekend. Each day will be in the 70’s. I’m thinking it’s  a farewell present.

My house is filled with stuff which has meaning only for me. The living room is mostly Ghana. A green basket I brought back home with me forty years ago sits under a table. Gold weights are on another table. Next to them is the top of a linguist staff and an old oware board leans against the same table. Finger bells are on the hearth. You put a round piece on each thumb and a bell on one finger of each hand to play it. I bought it in the market. I have paintings from Ghana. A couple were done by the art teacher at my school, Yao Blisah (though I don’t guarantee the spelling of his name).

In here are bags made from Bolga leather, a distinctive red and black leather still used. You can see boys working with the leather in some of my recent pictures. On the wall I have an old Bolga hat made of straw with a tie of that red and black leather. It’s a funky looking hat with straw straight up all over the woven part. I have an adrinka cloth my school gave me when I left. It is my prize Ghanaian possession.

Lately I’ve been thinking about putting together an album of pictures of all of these mementos. I’ll write stories about why each piece of Ghana is dear to me. I figure maybe they’ll become dear to someone else too.