Monday, December 9, 2013
On the Edge
She's at the dentist now. I could turn it up for an hour then quickly, when she pulls into the driveway, turn it down. No, that won’t work, because it will still be too warm.
She is no dummy. She’s hard nosed, tough, fair and honest, but she’s very sensitive to the change in air warmth. I can understand that. She’s always cold no matter how warm the house is. She’s cold in the summer. She would make a great firefighter. She could go into a burning building without a fire jacket and still be cold. But when it comes to saving money ... she is why we call her “the razor.”
But I can do this: She goes to school for one hour each day to teach a Spanish class. If I wait until she’s down the driveway and completely out of sight, I can turn it up for a few minutes, long enough to warm up my fingers so I can type.
Trouble is, I tried that once, and just as the pipes were warming up, she was back. She had forgotten her laptop. She rushed in and grabbed it and started out the door. I thought I had made it, but she stopped, turned and sniffed the air.
“Did you turn the furnace on? You didn’t, did you?” she said.
“No,” I replied. “I had the oven on to warm up the pumpkin bread.”
She bought it. But it won’t work twice. Nothing ever works twice with her.
I know this makes her sound like a martinet, Cruella De Vil or Nurse Ratched, and she’s not. Well, she’s not Nurse Ratched. The truth is, she’s very good about saving us a lot of money with her basket of tricks. I won’t list them all here, because some of them are outlawed in South American countries, but she is very good at them.
But this heating thing is getting out of hand. I know heating oil is expensive, and it looks as though it might go even higher. And they say it’s going to be a really cold winter. This is not just a problem in our house. Everyone is holding back.
On Facebook, there is a running dialogue between 15 women on who is not touching the thermostat and who has fallen.
“Not until November 20,” one says.
“That’s too early ... Thanksgiving when the family arrives,” claims another.
Then, at the bottom of the list, “I’m sorry ... I put it up to 67, it just got too cold for the bird,” one cried pitifully.
I understand that the others unfriended her. Poor thing.
She, who reads the fine print on boxes, read an article in this very paper listing some choices. Sleep under a few more blankets. Well, we have electric blankets. Even there, she’s stingy. It works, she says, to turn the blanket on to high while we brush our teeth, and then jump in and quickly turn it off.
The idea being is that the chill is off, and you no longer need the full power.
That’s fine, but I go to bed an hour or two later than she does, and the bed has gone cold again. She is asleep, so I could click it on again for a few minutes, but the click wakes her up. Everything wakes her up. Leaves falling on the deck wake her up. Her hearing, even in deep sleep, is incredible. She wakes up when a door slams in Albion.
So I snuggle in and put my frozen feet next to her. This, of course, wakes her up.
“Did you turn the blanket back on?” she said.
“What was that click I heard?”
“Someone in Albion slammed a door,” I reply.
And then she goes back to sleep. That’s not only good hearing. That’s space alien hearing.
To be fair, she loves me, and she’s trying to help me lose weight, and I appreciate that because I have all the discipline of a doorstop. Once she agrees to help me in any pursuit, she locks in on it like there will be coupons awarded.
So we’ve unzipped all the big January and February sweaters early, and have moved our living room chairs closer to the electric heater.
By the way, an amazing fact you may use: Did you know that if you hold your hands over the light bulb in your reading lamp or press them against the screen on your TV, they get warm? Doesn’t work on the computer screen.
Nothing is perfect.
J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.