Freezer Burn

If my typing seems a little shaky this morning, it’s because my fingers haven’t quite thawed out. Yes, it’s cold outside. And for the five lucky inhabitants of my house, it’s also cold inside. We’re talking Outer Mongolia. Maybe even Siberia.

But not to worry, this exile has been self imposed. See, about a month ago, I got my first heating bill of the winter. Let’s just say I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off the cold, drafty floor.

Sure, like most informed citizens, I read the papers and listened to the doomsayers, so I knew it was going to be bad. But, considering that my house is no larger than many people’s closets (I prefer the term “cozy”), I figured I would be having the last laugh.

But there’s nothing funny about coughing up $300 in cold cash for one month of heat. That’s more than my wedding dress cost – or my ski jacket for that matter.

Apparently, our little gingerbread bungalow is more like a Swiss cheese shanty. On a windy day you can feel the breeze – in the living room. Instead of radiant in-floor heat we have radiant on-floor, well, radiators. And our furnace is the heating industry’s answer to the Edsel. Then there was that cold snap back in November, when the plumbing broke on Thanksgiving Day. The hot water in the shower ran for three days before we could get someone to fix it. I considered recouping my costs by opening a discount bath house, but shuddered at the thought of cleaning the ring it might leave.

Needless to say, when that hefty heating bill rolled in, the shrink wrap went up and every nook and cranny was caulked, sealed and stuffed. And we’re not talking the Thor-lo-in-the-window trick of my earlier, ski-bumming days. This weather-proofing was actually done with true professionalism. In fact, from a distance, you can hardly notice that every window in my house is encased in Saran Wrap.

In addition, strict martial law was enforced from that day forward. Anyone caught lingering in an open entry way was severely reprimanded. Leaving the basement door open was grounds for a good flogging. The thermostat was set at 68 degrees – and only between the hours of 6 and 10 p.m. At bedtime, the fleece suit and fuzzy pink slippers came out (much to the spousal unit’s chagrin), and the thermostat was firmly pegged at 62.

All right, maybe for true thermostat Nazis, 62 is for wussies. But, I’ll have you know, I once braved a February night in the back of my truck in Gunnison when the mercury plummeted to 30 below zero. I’ve been on a river trip where I had to break ice off my wet suit before getting into it. And don’t forget – I’m from the Midwest. I used to ski in jeans – at night, for chrissake. I know cold.

OK, so I’ve also been known to wear wool hats in July, but I’ll have you know, 62 is plenty nippy. There’s nothing sissy about braving that ice-cold commode first thing in the morning. And it may be my imagination, but the kids seem to have a taken on a permanent blue tinge.

And Lord knows, my pink slippers have a certain chilling effect all their own.

Needless to say, I reminded my loved ones that all our suffering and sacrificing would not be in vain once January bill time rolled around and we reaped the seeds we had froze. Once my purple, shrunken fingers opened up that envelope and saw all the money I had saved, not to mention the resources I had conserved as a conscientious consumer, we would be filled with the warm fuzzy glow of self righteousness and civic duty. Let the neighbors laugh at the tenement wrap on my windows and the sweater on my dog. I could endure it, knowing that I was at least doing my part not only fiscally, but environmentally.

But when the moment of reckoning finally came, it sent perhaps the biggest chill of all up my spine. All that shrink wrapping, all that weather stripping, down comforting, door monitoring and thermostat lowering had amounted to a piddly $30.12 – including a week over Christmas when we were out of town and didn’t even have the heat on at all.

That’s barely enough to cover the cost of my slippers.

I was so distraught over the ineffectiveness of my efforts, that I was tempted to crank the heat to 80, put on shorts and say “hell to it” all the way to Margaritaville. But when it came down to it, I just couldn’t turn that dial, knowing that although I would be much more comfortable, I also would be heating the entire neighborhood and emitting an infrared plume that could be seen from space.

My house may be a sieve, but I decided to keep my resolve ironclad – or in this case, shrink-wrapped.

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale