1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Progress on the house has slowed to a crawl. No, crawl sounds too speedy. Creep. Drag. Complete standstill.

First, we got sick. Then came the holidays and all their accompanying gatherings (two down, three to go).

But the real reason we've virtually stopped working on the house is the cold. We're trying to avoid the $300-plus gas bills of yesteryear, so the thermostat is set on 59. Every now and then, the central heat kicks on, but for the most part the house is heated with portable electric heaters. The house is one giant refrigerator punctuated with three tiny pockets of heat.

In the evenings, we retreat to the living room, even eating our dinner there. We almost close the pocket doors between living and dining rooms (leaving just space enough for the cats to squeeze through), set the electric heater on oscillate, and cozy up together under that warm blanket I made a while back. After a few minutes, the cats snuggle up with us - Alistair between us under the blanket, Henry stretched out on my legs.

Who wants to leave the comfort of family and the heater to go wrangle with sheetrock in a cold, dusty bathroom? Not me. And Darwin is even less interested.

Even in the weekend daytime, the night's cold hangs in the house. Darwin flees outside and invents work to do on his motorcycle or the yard. I layer a T-shirt, flannel pajama top and hooded jacket and get sucked into the computer until my fingers and nose turn into little ice cubelets.

Ugh. I'm getting disgusted with myself just reading this. Sure, we deserve a break now and then. But it's so easy to get into a habit of nonactivity.

This Saturday was the first day in a long while that we hardly watched any TV. It was a fun and busy day, but even then we didn't do any work on the house.

We slept late, then went and had pancakes and bacon at our friend R's new restaurant and stayed to watch the Christmas parade out the front window. Then we went to the post office, where the postal worker was as mystified by my package bound for Australia as I dreaded she would be. After that, we peeked in the windows of a cute Victorian house/former hotel R owns, while my heels sunk in the ground. Back at home, Darwin tried to cut some limbs away from the power lines, but the limb cutter pole thingy wasn't long enough. We did some laundry and folded some clothes.

Then we went back to R's restaurant for a late lunch and chit-chatted some more. Back at home, we changed our sheets to the new brown flannel ones I bought a while back (SO WARM!). Then I wrapped presents for our nieces and nephews, while Darwin played invisible marker games. That night, we watched Monster-in-Law (not a classic, I assure you).

Okay, I'm boring even myself.

So what now? Do we just accept the status quo until the end of February? Somebody give me a jumpstart. Is it wrong to think about throwing money at people and telling them to fix my bathroom?

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jenne said...

Do you open your curtains during the day? I read somewhere that doing that really helps...so I tried it at the house I'm staying at in Denver...and it's been MUCH warmer inside during the day. At night, you're supposed to close the curtains again to keep the heat in. In the summer, you're supposed to do the opposite.

12:22 PM  
John said...

I know exactly what you mean.

It's really hard to leave the house on a Saturday morning. It's cold out, the woodstove is roaring, and hot coffee is calling to me. And, my 23 month old son (who I hardly see during the week) wants his dad to play with him.

As for working in the cold, I recommend layering clothes, space heaters, and halogen lamps.

When I go to the Queen this weekend, I'll be wearing 2 pairs of socks, work boots, work pants over the sweatpants (one pair of socks tucked into the sweatpants, one pair pulled over), two t-shirts, an old flannel work shirt, and sweatshirt. In the off chance you start getting hot, loose a layer of two. As the Norwegians say, there is no such thing as cold weather if you know how to dress for it (or something like that).

The critical factor for me is starting on the Queen early in the day. If I start something else first, I'll never get anything done.

Good luck.

1:33 PM  
halloweenlover said...

I totally sympathize. The funny thing is that my activity level slowed to a crawl during the summertime, but in the fall and winter spikes back up. I just have too much that I want to do outside to stay in an work!

I think a break is perfectly fine. You have been soooo motivated thus far, I am thoroughly impressed.

1:56 PM  
derek said...

I find that once I start working, I warm up pretty fast. Our basement isn't heated, so it's probably around 60 down there. I guess I can return to the mid 70's temp when I go upstairs, so it's not exactly the same. Like John suggested, the halogen lamps are really hot, it would probably be enough to heat a small bathroom, and you can always bring a heater with you.

2:29 PM  
Greg said...

I realized the same thing a few nights ago. My work ethic crumbles as the temperature drops. Now that I have the pocket doors up I rarely leave the parlor in the evenings, and I don’t crack it for the cats. In or out guys, one or the other. I can remember last year heating my left hand on the heat being blown out the little vent on the side of my laptop. My laptop computer was my primary source of heat!

3:11 PM  
Kristin said...

It would be easy enough to move one of the heaters to the area we want to work on, but it's the motivation that's lacking. *sigh*

3:32 PM  
Lenise said...

It's not wrong to pay someone to do the work if you've got the money and you don't mind not having done it yourself!

Or maybe give yourself a vacation with an end date so you don't let it stretch on interminably. I know about perpetual inactivity. I'm there! I've fallen, and I can't get up.

10:22 AM  
Kristin said...

About paying people to do the work, Darwin said this very wise thing the other night: "They'd come out and do the estimate, and you'd say the same thing as always - it's too much, we just need to do that ourselves."

Ah, he knows me so well.

10:56 AM  
Beth said...

Don't beat yourself up. We ALL need vacations from our homes. :)

12:00 PM  
HomeImprovementNinja said...

I have the same issues. About half my house has heat, the other half has disconnected and capped radiators. I try to motivate myself to do work in the cold parts of the house, but it's usually an uphill battle. I got a bunch of portable heaters from a big box store because I'm having relatives in town for x-mass, but I had HOPED that pending visitors would be the kick in the butt that I needed to get myself in gear, but sadly...that's not the case.

9:17 AM  

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