Monday, February 15, 2016

Baby, it's cold outside. Inside, too.

Especially when compared to last year's snowmageddon, this winter has been a balmy breeze. Two weeeks ago today, I was actually out and about in a sweater.

We've had very little snow, very little cold, and freakish appearances by forsythia buds and cherry blossoms. The squirrels on Boston Common, generally skinny, furtive and thin-tailed this time of year, are plump, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They seem to be traveling in packs. And they'll stand there on the sidewalk, right in your path - bold as brass, as the nuns used to say - gnawing on an acorn they didn't even have to work for. They're the size of prairie dogs, and you forget for a moment that they're first cousins to the rat.

When, a few weeks back, we had a little cold snap - a few days of temps in the 20's - it was a shock to the heating system.

And then there was this weekend.

The temperature took a dive on Saturday afternoon, and the wind picked up. I had to run an errand on Charles Street, just around the corner, and it looked like 3 a.m. rather than 3 p.m. Few pedestrians on sidewalks that on a typical weekend are packed with locals running errands, tourists with their street maps, and twenty-somethings standing in line for breakfast or lunch at the Paramount. There weren't many cars around either.

Overnight on Saturday, it hit 7-below, the coldest temperature in Boston in nearly sixty years. Worcester, of course, outdid itself: 14-below.

Saturday night would have been a big Valentine's Day romantic dinner out evening. Last year, plans were ruined by a blizzard. This year, they were warning people about frostbite if they were out for more than 10 minutes. I spent a decidedly non-romantic evening avoiding the Republican debate, supping on PBJ and a clementine. A fellow owner popped in, and we discussed the latest building tsouris. It's a big one. More to follow on that, I'm quite sure.

One of the things about living in an old building is the heating challenges. I had the thermostat set at 70 degrees - I seldom go that high - and, overnight, the best it could maintain at was 63 degreees. Not bad for sleeping, but...

My condo is upside down: the living room and kitchen are on the upper level, the bedroom and den are downstairs. Hot air should rise, so 63 downstairs should translate to 65 upstairs. But that's until that hot air gets to the 12 foot ceilings in the living room, and the green-house window in the kitchen. At 7 a.m., the temperature in the kitchen was 55 degrees. Unfortunately, I needed to use the kitchen. Fortunately, I remembered that, when I reno'd, I'd cleverly had toe-kick heating installed. Now, when I first heard about toe-kick, I thought I would be able to kick it on. Not quite. You do have to pretty much go prone on the cold kitchen floor and do a commando-style crawl to switch it on. No matter. It does a very nice job of taking the chill off.

But baby, it's cold inside.

Sunday, the original plan was to take the train up to my sister's in Salem. Trish would pick me up at the train station, and we'd spend the day hanging out - maybe take the dog for a walk, maybe see a movie. That was before we heard the forecast, and that warning about frostbite after 10 minutes out. Plans changed: Trish would swing into Boston to pick me up, and our hanging out would be in her living room. Jack would be walking himself in the back yard if he so desired. If not, he could just hold it.

For the 2 second walk from my front door to Trish's front seat, I donned heavy cords, a wool turtleneck, heavy sweater, two pairs of socks, down coat, wool cap, scarf, and bunny-fur lined mittens. Brrrrrr....

The afternoon's event was sitting on the couch channel crusiing.

Dinner was frigid weather fare: chicken pot pie. I bought fancy cupcakes for dessert. What's Valentine's Day without a cupcake decorated in pink and red?

Today, Presidents' Day, the weather's warming up. We'll get the dog out to stretch his legs, and maybe get our wallets out to do a little shopping. After all, what's a holiday celebrating the great and not-so-great men who've led our country without a bit of shopping?

As for that bit o' frigid weather we just endured. The upside is that Arctic cold is good for keeping down the rat population. And I bet it wipes the smile off a couple of those bold as brass squirrels on the Common, blocking my way and taunting me with their acorns.

Enjoy the holiday. Stay warm!

You didn't think I was going to get through a holiday post without acknowledging that today is Presidents' Day, did you?

Just think, next year at this time, we could have a president in place who is unfathomably terrible. A crude, nasty, bullying, nativist demagogue. George, Tom and Abe must be spinning in their graves.

Rather than repeat myself, repeat myself, repeat myself, here's a link to last year's take on the day.

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