Monday, December 7, 2009

My own winter wonderland

Arch nemesis #1's alien-like glow.

Arch nemesis #2 (looking very proud with his homemade naan).

I dearly love my husband, and I want to be environmentally-friendly and avoid those winter heating bills that make me queasy, but a house should not maintain a steady temperature of 57 degrees (when we’re home, and much lower – sorry, Penny – when we’re out). Matt took it upon himself to buy a space heater when he was at Lowe’s, supposedly picking up a bit of wood for a homemade spice rack, last week. He was very pleased with himself as he showed me the box and said it was “infrared”. I told him it was ugly. He said it was space-like. I told him it doesn’t go with our decor. He said it has a “neat, alien-y” quality to it. He then unpacked it, plugged it in, and said it was “beautiful” as it became hot and gained an eerie, orange glow. Penny and I looked on in begrudged acceptance.

So for the past week we’ve been living with this thing pointed at our couch. It looks exactly like an oscillating desk fan, although it does not blow any hot air: it simply radiates warmth. During this past week we’ve also had thermostat battles so our house temperature was a balmy 64 degrees at times (my doing) and, like I said, 57 degrees when Matt got whiff of my doing.

We find our own ways to cope. Penny curls up in a tight ball and burrows her face in her underbelly; from afar you just see a black circular object on the floor, the whiteness on her muzzle beneath her. I’ve taken to long, hot showers, effectively increasing our water bill (and I suppose our gas bill to heat the hot water heater, too, although Matt does not see the irony in this) and cooking hot simmering meals on the stove. Matt is just Matt: he has adapted well to living at 57 degrees. I joke he has rhino skin: nothing penetrates it – he is never hot nor cold.

Matt has also proposed we do without air-conditioning. He grew up without this modern marvel and in a buzz of fans, and said you eventually are okay with it, and simply “sweat it out”. I told him “Kathryn doesn’t ‘sweat it out’” and hippie social trends be damned, I could not live without my air-conditioner (I had already absconded to a house temperature in the high seventies in the summer months). It also takes a good deal for me to sleep: OTC sleeping aids, a white noise machine, and in the warmer months, a fan and semi-cool temperature. Matt can fall asleep, I’m quite sure, on a bed of sticks. He might even enjoy it.

When I told him this, he said we could sleep in our sun room with the windows all open and the fan on. In fact, the summer before he had already hooked up a hammock in the room “just for fun” and had slept there on occasion with Penny laying on the floor beside him. Although he won’t admit it now, he always returned to bed the following night with a sniff neck and back.

We entertained friends (hi Lauren!) this weekend and I said there is “no way we’re subjecting them to this cold house of horrors!” Matt agreed and carried his “alien” heat contraption upstairs and I turned the temperature – oh, the thrill! – to 67 degrees. Typing this, I realize I still have to ask him why subjecting friends to a cold house is not acceptable, but doing the same to his wife is perfectly rational, so I just did ask him. Our undoctored IM conversation follows:

Me: (asking the above question, I posed to you, the reader)
Matt: (again, this is verbatim) many reasons
Matt: first, because they have the little kids
Matt: also, because it doesn't cost much to have the heat high for a day, but it does for the whole winter
Matt: also, they're guests, so they get preferential treatment.
Matt: like, we use our nice napkins
Matt: that we don't use on our own
Matt: and we clean for them
Matt: we don't clean for ourselves (Editorial note: This is true. We’re pretty slovenly. Fine, I am.)
Kathryn: but don't you care about your wife's comfort?
Matt: why do I feel like whatever I say is going to be rewritten and misrepresented on the blog?
Kathryn: i will quote you
Kathryn: no misrepresentation
Matt: if you really want we can turn the heat up
Kathryn: so it takes a threat of public humiliation to offer that?
Matt: it can be your christmas present
Matt: hehe
Kathryn: i see. you'll see parts of his conversation on the blog

So there you have it. He wasn’t happy I reposted that conversation, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. The space heater is nothing new, and not at all surprising. I agree with it, I do, but I think the house can be a bit warmer and the heater can take the place of a few degrees. I told him a few degrees could be hundreds of dollars in the span of a cold winter, but has a more “all or nothing” approach. In fact, he stated he already compromised with the 57 degree setting.

So it is no wonder I asked my grandmother for a Snuggie this Christmas.


  1. I was concerned when I read that you keep your house at 57, but truly alarmed at the very idea of abandoning your air conditioner!!! Kathryn, you must stand firm on this one!


  2. Well, I told Matt he needs to be more romantic, so tonight he made me salmon and mac 'n' cheese (interesting combo, yes?) and....drum roll please... TURNED THE HEAT UP TO 68! I think he was slightly humiliated by the blog entry. I had a toasty night AND HE WATCHED JULIE AND JULIA WITH ME.

    It goes without saying I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

    Also, mark my words, we will never go without air-conditioning. He doesn't want to unleash that beast.

  3. Woohoo! We made a blog! I feel so honored! And even more so that you cleaned and heated the house for us ;-)! And I think the "rhino skin" is a guy thing- Jesse is the same way, as is my Uncle Lee. I don't know so much about my Dad, because he never made a big deal about it. Not that Jesse does, he just always wears short sleeves, even when I'm shivering in a sweatshirt under a blanket. Maybe guys are cold-blooded and adjust to the temperature that they're in better.

  4. Making the blog is indeed epic (cough, cough). Ha.

    Absolutely, it seems women are more fussy with temperature. But I think any rational person would be fussy in 57 degree cold! :-)