For the past year or so I’ve been reading about people who deliberately keep their houses cold. I’m not talking about those who dare to lower their thermostat to 65 degrees from the recommended 68 degrees, but people like this guy in Maine, who experiences daily indoor house temperatures in the 40s and 50s, or the folks who participate in the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge.
I started reading about this trend when the place I stay at (in another city) topped 85 degrees for indoor winter temps, which made me more than slightly apoplectic. Since I had no control over the heat, and I couldn’t even open my windows more than a few inches, I began thinking about what it might be like to live in a place that was cold inside.
Ask and ye shall receive.
It took record-breaking weather, but I now am in a “cold house”. (Though if I had actually planned to be here this week I would not have left all of my silk long johns back east.) Our furnace is working overtime, but the inside temp was a brisk 59 degrees Fahrenheit when I got up at 5:30 this morning. Given the reports of natural gas outages and shortages, I decided to lower our thermostat to 60 and go with this as the interior temp for the day. I sure wish I had a kotatsu, though!
I also discovered early this morning that the back bathroom on the north side of the house – the one that is not part of the main double-adobe house - has a frozen bathtub drainpipe, despite our best efforts to keep this from happening. The faucets are still a-dripping, and the space heater is keeping the room warm, but not warm enough. Hot and boiling water hasn’t done the trick yet, but we'll try again when we've hit today's projected high of 21 degrees.
Fingers crossed that as it warms up today we’ll see the water swirl clockwise down the drain. Or is it counterclockwise in this hemisphere?
I’m betting that the pipes below the bathtub drain are not insulated, but there is NO WAY I’m going under the house in the crawl space today to check it out.
Even our dogs have changed their behavior in response to the cold. El Chesapeake Bay Retriever is stuck in lapdog mode, which is incompatible with my laptop mode. And our German Shepherd mix harbors the misconception that barking at the door will stop the occasional cold air draft from seeping under the weatherstripping, which has lost its pliability in these frigid times.
The cats are all perched in high places close to heater vents. Even the cognitively challenged cat has figured this out, which has given me cause to reassess her decisional capacity. Perhaps the helplessness I’ve attributed to fewer feline neurons firing is really just clever cat manipulation. I wouldn't put it past her at this point.
I have been thinking of the warmest place in Barelas. Can you guess what it is? My money is on the koala house at the Rio Grande Zoo, which is where I always go whenever I want to feel summer in winter. Sadly, the zoo is closed today.
I’m guessing that the next warmest place might be the Barelas Coffee House, but that depends on the politician head count. This time of year the hot air tends to leave Barelas and travel north to Santa Fe. ¿Es verdad?
Aside from these two places, I’m wondering where the third warmest public spot in Barelas is located. The Barelas Senior Center is usually nice and toasty. Though I have to add that I’m a bit concerned about our seniors, who might normally head to the Barelas Senior Center for convivial and other warmth. Our senior center is closed for renovation until Spring 2011.
I’m also thinking of the people who live in the bosque. There are two spots that I’ve noted as possible abodes in my daily walks through the bosque. I give these a wide berth as I skirt the edges of what appear to be homes – wanting to respect their privacy and also wanting to stay safe myself. I hope these residents of the bosque are safe and warm in a well-heated shelter somewhere.
There’s another homeless person who has been on my mind for hours now– a long-haired middle-aged woman who frequents Barelas. I don’t know this woman’s name, but she and her several dogs have been around Barelas for about a decade. I’ve seen her so many times as I’ve walked through the neighborhood that we now raise our hands in greeting; my attempts at conversation over the years have not been successful, though once she accepted a bag of dog food from me.
Yesterday on my way back from a medical appointment, I deliberately cruised by the spots I have seen her at most recently – the Tingley Drive/Marquez Lane acequia bridge, and both the little pocket parks of Barelas (Eddie Garcia and Hazeldine) as well as Tingley Field. No sign of her anywhere. I’ve never seen her without her dogs and I’m worried about them all.
I commend our city for its current focus on keeping people and pets safe in this weather. I just hope that there are shelter provisions for those who, for whatever reasons (mental or physical), refuse to be separated from their animals.
NOTE: just as I was finishing this up, the news about the potential and actual Albuquerque gas shortages broke. I'm off to check in on our neighbors, especially our seniors. Y'all might want to do the same. The city is asking everyone to lower their thermostats by ten degrees (gulp - that means a brisk 50 degrees in our casa) in hopes to stave off everyone losing gas entirely.