Thursday, February 18, 2010


Things have ground to a clunky halt here---the heat went out yesterday, and though the sunshine coming in and the residual in the house kept us fairly cozy, Chris spent a lot of time putting in the spare motor to the furnace system.

The attendant clutter and general atmosphere of emergency, of different in the house occasioned a let-down of all activity. I just did the dishes and tended our Girl for the day. She's had a cold, and suddenly turned for the better on Tuesday---I could almost see the moment she turned the corner. We had played and watched TV all cuddled in a banky, and after her two hour nap, she came downstairs ready for her tea and a brownie.

Yesterday, we were OK for all of her time here, with a couple of burners on the BIG old Franklin kitchen stove doing off-and-on duty, and her keeping on her soft pajamas under her clothes. She again woke ravenous and ate a whole cereal-bowl of tiny carrots steamed with salt and a sprinkle of sugar, then tossed with a little knob of butter to await her wakening. She eats those things like popcorn, and indeed did, yesterday, lying on her back in front of the TV and finger-thumbing each morsel neatly into her mouth.

THEN, since we'd already planned takeout Chinese for supper, we did. And since Caro went to work for the night, and we have a waterbed, all was well for sleeping. I expected the house to be quite cool when I awoke, but Chris had put two big stockpots of water onto the burners of the stove, and the simmering water was keeping the room very comfortable. Now he has finished the job, after many hours on hands and knees with his head inside the little air-return door, and the warm air is circulating nicely.

He's just amazing---he fixes electronic things and printers for a living, and once rebuilt a side-draft carburetor on a Triumph Spitfire---so he just dives in and never, ever lets a job defeat him. He just keeps on keepin' on, like Wile E. Coyote.

The chaos, however, may do me in---everything in the utility room---shelves of holiday dishes, all the casseroles, the spare pots, the trays and cakestands and fryer and toaster and BIG rolls of Saran and foil had to be unloaded onto the freezer, washer, dryer for moving the shelves. A lot of dusting and replacing will follow tomorrow, for we're gonna give the new motor a 24-hour audition before putting everything back into place. I squeeze into the small space left and load the washer, turning sidewise to get the damp things into the dryer, but OH am I grateful for appliances, one and all. (Says the Mom of three whose dryer-less Winter days used to be spent clothes-pinning diapers to the line outside or in the spare room to hang damply, steaming the windows in the warmth of the little gas heater).

I AM thankful for all these conveniences---those rub-boards you see on the walls of flea markets and antiques stores did not come into the world dingy and pre-rusted---they were of bright fresh wood and shiny galvanized metal, and they are testament to long hard use by hands chapped and sore from bitter cold and lye soap and constant work.

And I've built morning fires in a cold room---walking in here to a warm puff of air from clean vents is such a luxury we don't even think about, and hearing the cozy hum of the furnace as it kicks on and off in the night is the stuff that pleasant dreams are made of.


sparrowgrass said...

The thought of doing laundry for a family without the modern conveniences makes me shudder. I know that the old timers wore one set of clothes all week, but still, Mondays must have been hell for grandma. Just think about a cold wet February day, hauling water and building a fire, scrubbing those overalls and diapers, and then hanging them out. Poor hands, all chapped and cold, poor aching back and knees.

Tuesday was for ironing--heating flatirons on the woodstove. My mother told me that when she was a girl, they had a kerosene iron. It was smelly, and she said the fumes made her sick.

Southern Lady said...

I'm glad you all are warm and toasty again. I, too, am blessed with a husband who can fix almost anything, or at least figure out what's wrong with it so he can tell a repairman.

I hope your little one feels much better today. I'm going to fix some carrots for Avery like the ones you fixed for her. I've never thought of putting sugar in them.

Loved this post, as always.

Tonja said...

Stay warm, my friend!

Maggie McArthur said...

I'm delighted your Chris came through as we all knew he would. But yeah, the cleanup after a major project -- ouch!