Last night was the coldest so far this year--not sure how far it really got, but at one point early this morning it was 4 degrees, with a wind chill factor of -20. When I took Tandi out for one last squat in the leaves, I breathed a thank you to God for home and heat. Just a few years ago, an ice storm caused a power outage in our little town, which lasted for 4-5 days in some neighborhoods. In our particular neighborhood, because we live up a small mountain, when we lose power, we also lose water, because it can't be pumped uphill. If ever there's a storm and we lose power, I immediately run a bathtub of water so I'll have some to heat on the gas stove for sponge baths, washing dishes, etc.
When the ice storm came that Dec., I was able to get a shower and get ready for work just before the power went out. I took J-Man's 4-wheel drive so I could be sure and get home the next morning. I got to work all night in a warm hospital, but the power at the house was still out when I came home, and J-Man was huddled in the bed, the dog and both cats with him. (The grandcats were home between holidays so DD could study for finals in law school.) It was painful for him, because when he gets cold, his left side, the paralyzed one, gets very spastic and contracted and it's hard for him to move.
We spent a lot of that day out and around, at Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Applebee's for early supper, etc. and were facing another bitterly cold night when we got home. I rousted up an old knit toboggan for J-Man's head, to help hold the heat in, and piled him high with blankets--virtually trapping him in the recliner, but at least he was warmer than the night before. I brought down several of my old kerosene and oil lamps from the ledge in the kitchen (though I won't burn kerosene in them--just lamp oil), and placed them around in the bathrooms, the living room and kitchen. Besides being a comforting source of light, they gave off a surprising amount of heat. I heated up some water on the stove and we drank hot chocolate, then I bundled up on the couch and went to sleep. About 9:30 that night, the lights woke us up. We were one of the fortunate families, our electricity restored in less than 30 hours. The temperature in the house was 56 degrees, but quickly warmed up.
In June of the next year, we bought thermal windows for the house. It wasn't on our list of things to do, but in calling some of the references for the company, one of the women who answered cited the past winter's ice storm as her prime reason for buying the windows. That cinched it for us, as well. The house has been more comfortable, summer and winter, especially after buying the new heating and cooling system last summer.
Then came last night--the coldest one our heating system has had to deal with to date--and the temperature in the house was only 64 degrees this morning, though the thermostat was set at 70. I phoned the company who'd installed the system--and got on the list for repairs. Seems they were flooded with no-heat calls today. Thank goodness we had a little heat, and the thermal windows to hold it in. As the day went on the wind stopped, the sun shone brightly, and I lit candles around the house--and made cookies! Nothing like baking to add a little warmth to the house!
Our repairman got here at 8pm this evening. I'd long since figured they'd have to put us off til morning, as it was dark and still so cold out there, but the temperature in the house had risen to 70 degrees with running the dishwasher and the oven, so we were fine. Still it was nice to see him--and find out he was a neighbor of ours! He even brings his children trick-or-treating at our house!
I love small towns.
In less than an hour, he'd found the problem and fixed it--a loose wire in the thermostat that kept the system from fully kicking in as it should. As the system is still under warranty, and it was their fault anyway, we didn't owe a penny. It's now 14 degrees outside, but it's a cozy 70 degrees inside, and I'm sending up another prayer of gratitude--for thermal windows and new heating systems and dependable repairmen.
And I sent a dozen oatmeal raisin cookies home with Chuck.