A Chill in the Air

lynn and oz 0219

I don’t know if it’s my thyroid or what, but I am having a heck of a time staying warm this winter. I can already hear my sister Terri in the comments section: “Maybe that’s because you live in Gunnison.” But I’ve lived in Gunnison before and not had this problem. It feels new, and unwelcome.

It’s not even that cold, but the weather of the last couple years has softened us and made us all weak. Last year we really didn’t have a winter. The winter before that it snowed, but then it got so warm in January that when it precipitated it rained. This year, I’m sure thanks to Lynn and me, it has snowed and then turned cold. Really, not as cold as the “olden days” of my childhood, or even my earlier adulthood, when everyone in Gunnison knew firsthand that the one point where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales agree is -40, but we’ve “bottomed out” in the mid-20s below several times this year, including several times this week.

I have to confess, I’m not bowled over by the hiking boots I bought at Gene Taylor’s some short time ago, in terms of their ability to retain heat. I tried on every pair in the store in my size (all on my own, since it’s now a self-serve kind of place), and this was the only pair I liked. They’ve worn well and are easy to walk in, but stand around outside for more than 15 minutes and the cold settles in.

Which is what happened out at the Some Day house yesterday, where I met with Dusty to discuss the Tiny Bathroom. And I shouldn’t complain at all: Ben the plumber was out there too, working in the dark, cold crawlspace with a diesel generator for heat. He told us that when he starts tasting the diesel, he knows it’s time to come up out of the hole and take a break. So I learned that much, and listened in on a contractor joke about diesel stored in red cans (red is for gasoline, I gathered, but it was a lot funnier to them than it was to me), but I didn’t get a progress report, other than: yet another subcontractor is going on vacation. Ben will be in Colombia later this month.

I also learned, for those of you who have been telling us how warm our garage will be with the boiler located out there, that today’s high-efficiency units are unlike the old iron boilers that would have, yes, heated the entire area. This unit will not only NOT heat the space, but we’re going to need to install a small ceiling-mounted forced-air heater to keep the garage warm enough for the boiler to operate.

I had already decided, given my State of Cold this winter, that I wanted to go ahead and insulate the new garage, but now it appears that will be a necessity. Although I keep wondering in the back of my mind if this year isn’t a new anomaly, just for the benefit of Lynn and TL and the entirety of their house-building crew, and subsequent years might not rate all this winter weatherizing we’re doing. Trevor Noah told us the other night that the world is losing insects at an alarming rate, and all of them may be gone within 100 years. And surely by now you’ve seen pictures of the polar bears who are invading Russia, feeding off garbage, which isn’t nearly as nourishing as the seals they can no longer reach without Arctic ice. Damn those climate change nuts!

I told Dusty I was anxious to get windows in the house to make it warmer, but he informed me that this will really make it colder. Not while the sun’s shining, or while workers are in there with their own diesel generator (not sure what color cans the diesel will be stored in), but once the sun goes down, the air will cool down and now be trapped inside the house. So there’s that to look forward to.

But the windows, which at the latest were supposed to be here Monday, are now supposed to be here today, and Lars intends to bring them to the jobsite by mid-morning. I did not get a report on if these can be installed while it’s snowing, but it sounded like today, at least, windows would go in on the west side, probably plastic on the south, with the east left open because the wind doesn’t blow from that direction. Except on the days it does.

The purpose of yesterday’s meeting was to discuss options for enlarging the Tiny Bathroom, and it turns out the solution that would be easiest is the one I thought would be most difficult: move the north wall 5.5 inches further north into the laundry room.

No one in the world seems to share my desire to have a large space in which to do laundry, but Dusty made marks on the floor and showed me that I really shouldn’t be losing any functional area. I can’t explain exactly why I want this large laundry room: I don’t even do that much laundry. But when I do, it’s quite the production. I eschew the dryer except for socks and fluffing of stiff clothes, so I need lots of room to spread wet clothes around. And once long ago I read one of those eco-household tips which suggested air-drying your clothing in sunshine would help put moisture into your house, and right then a vision of a sun-soaked laundry room manifested itself in my brain and never left.

This one will not be sun-soaked, even with a nice big window right in front of my folding counter, because it’s north-northwest, but I think my plants that need indirect west light will like it. And even though it’s an all-purpose room with a higher calling than mere laundry, it should be okay even if six more inches get shaved off. And the Tiny Bathroom, even if Ben seemed to think it would be a waste of effort, will feel more functional.

In the hour it took to get this far, my feet turned to ice. And even though I hovered over Kara’s heater at work, and a space heater at home, and sipped oat water in my elephant mug that made it extra toasty warm, it was not until midway through tap class that Karen’s sweat-inducing exertions in speed finally warmed me up. (I would like to tell you immodestly yet truthfully that I was in a class by myself last night.)

I keep looking forward to the day our gas fireplace will be installed in our new house. And then I have to remind myself: that day will likely be in June. Presumably — hopefully — I will feel warmer by then.

Photo: Lynn keeps warm under her living (and exceptionally hairy) blankie, while wrapped in her corn stole and heated by the glow of her iPad. Interesting factoid, compliments of the internet: the only countries that do not use the Celsius scale are the Bahamas, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Liberia — and US. I will say, everything sounds colder on the C scale: 82 our way is 28 theirs. Who needs that?

4 thoughts on “A Chill in the Air

  1. Wait. Did I just read you were looking FORWARD to new gas fireplace? After terrivand I begged, cajoled you for months to even consider one. Guess moms and sisters are usually right after all

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  2. By all means, insulate the garage. We retrofitted our garage that way after moving to balmy Arvada, and I’m sure it made things better. And with a heat source in yours, all the more reason to do it.

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  3. Yes, you do live in Gunnison. Where it’s really, really cold all the time. I check it on the weather every morning and -18 seems to be a sweet spot for you all this winter. Personally, I say insulate and heat everything possible. You won’t be sad! And are we sure the boilers are “more” efficient when they don’t throw off heat for your garage?

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