Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"UFO's caused the Gulf War Syndrome? That's why we like you, Mulder. Your ideas are weirder than ours." A Lone Gunman, X-Files



Fire: After 250,000 years, it still ranks as our coolest use of rapid oxidation.


It’s two AM. I wake up.

My right arm has attained the temperature of a slab of beef in your grocer’s cabinet.

It’s cold. Colder than any living flesh has a right to be.

I begin to panic. This has happened before. Now, here it is again. Is this a medical problem with a name like “Cold Arm Syndrome” that’s threatening to kill me deader than evolutionary theory in Kansas?

No.

The fire is low.

My right arm tends to be outside the covers. In actuality, Cold Arm Syndrome is just Nature’s way of waking up Dad so he can get up at two AM and shove some more wood on the fire.

We heat the house entirely with wood during the winter. That has good points (fewer dollars spent) and bad points (getting up at two AM). I really don’t mind getting up and putting wood on the fire. There’s that bit of a ten year old boy in me that senses the great deal of destruction in cutting down a whole tree with a friggin’ chainsaw, cutting it into bits, and then . . . BURNING IT. It’s a fairly healthy way to get that sort of thing out. I’m thinking that if world leaders and terrorists spent more time getting and burning wood, well, then they could, you know, burn the wood. Pretend it was whatever country they didn’t like. Then they could just go back to sleep. In a warm house. And there would be world peace through wood burning.

Regardless, I’ve got to get up and put wood on the fire.

The Mrs. is glad that I do this, but would prefer that I were able to do it like a Charlie Chaplin film: no noise. There’s a slight problem with this. She won’t trust me to feed The New Boy at night because I just might try to feed him steak instead of formula, but she doesn’t quite understand that I can’t hear the noise I’m making as I burn things in our house. On the ranking of biologic intelligence, I’m slightly above the mold that grows on Courtney Love at that time of the night. So, at least some of the time, I end up waking The New Boy and incurring the justifiable wrath of The Mrs.

Since we heat our house with wood, it’s nearly always warm by our Earth Stove. The Earth Stove, despite its name, doesn’t burn earth, just wood. This model was popular in the 1970’s, when “Earth” meant “Green.” Back then, it was good to burn things. Now, I think we’re just supposed to huddle and shiver.

But I digress. The Earth Stove makes the room it’s in very warm. The Earth Stove, unfortunately, is only in one room. And, through a series of calculations that The Mrs. would likely disagree with, my right arm is the farthest piece of living flesh in the house from the stove. It’s also not under the covers. Hence, when it gets cold half the house away from the Earth Stove, Cold Arm Syndrome is the result.

My right arm is our thermostat.

Now, I suppose that those of you that have fancy automatic electric controls that keep you warm and cool find it a bit ironic: I live in one of the coldest spots in the United States, yet my technology for keeping us warm is entirely dependent on how cold my arm gets while I sleep. Yeah. It’s old fashioned, but standing next to a roaring fire in an Earth Stove when it’s -55F or colder outside does something good for your soul. Maybe it’s closer to an “Extreme Soul Makeover,” and not the Stevie Wonder kind.

You look outside and see temperatures that humans simply cannot live in without shelter, and you’re warm inside, and your family is quietly sleeping in the night, warm and safe. Making this even more “Leave it to Beaver” is that you cut the wood, stacked it, and even started the fire. That’s a deep fulfillment. It’s better than shampooing with Pantene, or whatever that shampoo is that makes the women on the commercials feel really, really good.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Oz said...

Dear John:

In years past, I too heated my house with wood. Cutting and burning are great fun. I found that splitting the wood a good substitute for lashing out at others that deserved it.

While in college, I tried to help a friend heat *their* house with wood as well.

Instead, I almost caused a great deal of smoke damage to their house.

Should I still, feel bad after all of these years? Or should I just drink more beer (from a can)?

12:12 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Makes me wonder how one-armed or quadriplegic people get by in Alaska?

Instead of a nightly thermostat trigger like your arm, I have an annual thermostat reaction. Once a year, I turn on the heat in the house at Thanksgiving. Until then, no matter how cold it gets (around 60-65F sometimes), I keep the heater off. After Thanksgiving the thermostat keeeps the house at 62F at night and 68F during the day, so the house is warmer during the winter than before. It's a weird system, but a habit I can't change.

11:05 PM  
Blogger John said...

Oz,
You never did actually burn my house down, so, you know we're still brothers. Just have another cold one.

woof,
Heh heh heh. Yeah, that's a tight temperature band. Our house varies from 50 to 80 most days. Just matter how aggressive you feel with the wood.

One-armed folks keep the other arm out, I think. Quadriplegic folks, I would imagine, keep the real thermostat on.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Lady Luck said...

I had coldfeet syndrome last night and it was only 43 degrees. Of course I didn't have a Mr. to get up and turn my heater on.

Of course at 43 degrees you probably would have been burning up in your house! LOL!

9:04 AM  
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11:07 AM  

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