Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wintertime-depressing post!

I got woken up a bit early today by Pat's carpool, our neighbor Mike, knocking on the door wondering if Pat was ever going to come out.  This happens once every few months where Pat forgets to set his alarm.  I heard the knocking first since I was sleeping in the living room in a hopeless quest to find a comfortable position.  So I hurried and woke Pat and he went to the door to tell Mike to just leave, but Mike said he'd wait.

Rather than hurry to dress, brush teeth, etc., the first thing Pat does is start a fire.  Bless him!  He could have dissed us and made me do it, but he knows we would all freeze to death by the time I got the fire going! I hate it when he's out of town in the winter, because I have to do it, and it takes about an hour to get the house warm.  I'm pretty good at making fires, but being down on my knees arranging wood and trying to coax a fire to life is not my favorite morning pastime.  I already have to get down on my knees all day long, adding more wood and keeping it alive, so it's nice for Pat to start it so we're warm when we wake up. Then he can be off to the city where his office is nice and warm, and forget about us backward country folks. 

Not our stove FYI.
That's just one example of living with a wood burning stove.  But since we are on propane (natural gas doesn't come here) and it used to cost us $100 a week to heat the house, we chose the wood burning stove and it is so nice to come in from the cold and go stand in front of it!  Still the things I know now, that I didn't know then...
1) They are extremely messy.  My living room looks like kindling and dust exploded everywhere all winter long since we have to constantly bring in wood.
2) The farther you get away from the fire the colder it is, so we all practically camp in the living room all winter.  If you have to go to the bathroom, you come running back afterwards to stand in front of the fireplace.
3) Pat has to get up on the roof 3-4 times a year to clean out the chimney.  It is very high and very steep.  It is also FREEZING, and scary when the roof is covered in snow and ice.  He comes in looking like the chimney sweeps in Mary Poppins, so that's one bright spot. Anyway, if he doesn't clean out the chimney, our house starts to fill with smoke every time we open the stove.  Bad.
4)Babysitting Woes.  If we employ a babysitter, the babysitter is either going to burn herself trying to keep the fire going, or freeze to death.  Don't mock me.  It's happened before where we've come home late at night and the fire has burned out, and the babysitter is sitting on the couch (poor thing!) in her coat and scarf shaking all over.

The alternative is leaving these instructions for a teenage girl:
When the fire gets low, open the flu first, then slowly the door, stir up the coals with the poker, then arrange the wood just right (demonstration required), then close the door ALMOST all the way to get it going, and once it bursts into flames, close it tightly and a couple minutes later close the flu.  If it gets too hot pull out the damper, and never, never, never let your skin touch anything!

It has been very cold here for a while now, and for 3 days the pipes in my bathroom have been frozen, reminding me yet again that I can't just go on a 2 month vacation at this time of year to forget where I live! (I don't know how many times I've told Pat that I just need to go back to Chile for January and February each year).  Pat was blow drying the pipes with my hair dryer for hours, and we have this small heater for when the baby comes, that lately has been sitting in the bathroom to warm the pipes. Of course the builders of our house were bright enough to put all the water pipes along that coldest outside wall, so we've already had broken pipes and have a big hole in the wall with water leaking out of it when we shower that we have no idea what to do with.  We've never fixed the broken pipes, we just stop using them, because I'm sure I would die at the cost.  Soon the kids are going to wonder why we are all using their bathroom!

Aaahh, wintertime.  Wintertime for Californians who didn't grow up like this!  This is my depressing time of year, when I remember that in California, you can still do everything normal, even in the wintertime, and it's even somewhat exciting and romantic having a chill in the air because you are not suffering from frostbite.   

Evan is getting depressed too.  He has to wake up early and go out into the cold to and from school.  He really didn't want to go to school today, and cried last night, and after talking to him, I'm convinced nothing is really wrong, it's just that it's so cold, and not very fun right now.  Dallas said, "That's exactly how I felt Evan.  School was exciting at first, but then it's not."

Evan even got a near perfect report card yesterday, (5 A's and 1 B) and he's the only one in his class who never gets his card punched or gets in trouble, and it didn't even mean much to him.  He didn't even smile. Last week, he told me he wanted to do 2nd grade at his school, but yesterday, he told me he'd finish this year and do homeschool next year.  I told him we'll see what happens.  His school is great, and his teacher is great, just I think right now he's feeling that staying home with us is where he'd rather be and that he misses out on a lot when he's gone all day.  And he does!  I feel like I hardly ever see him!  I wish I could just take him out for these coldest months and then he'd probably be fine going back when the weather gets happier.  I sure love him, and worry about him.  He used to be so happy, and the longer school goes on, the more I don't seem to know him anymore and that happiness is leaving.  He smiles less and less and he won't even hug me.  That can't be right.

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