2008.10.29 The Dorks vs. the weather

Written by David Green.


I’m really looking forward to Halloween. I don’t think I’ve been this excited about it since I was a kid.

I haven’t thought about a costume. I’ll probably just sit on the porch in weird clothing with my little ceramic dog and toss candy into bags. The dog enjoys licking the candy before it goes in each visitor’s bag. Some kids don’t like that and of course that’s when I score a point.

Thinking about Halloween gives me a warm feeling. I really don’t care about trick-or-treating. It’s heat.

My wife came up with the crazy notion of seeing if we could last until Halloween without turning on the furnace. We’re getting daytime highs outside in the 50s—well, until Saturday when it reached only 49—and I’m sure the hot water heater and appliances are giving off some heat, so we survive.

Between work demands and...well, other work demands, it seems as though we’re seldom here except to eat and sleep. And run in place every so often.

This is kind of fun in one way. I think I’m considered a wacko more often than Colleen, but this is her idea. She describes it as a game. A cruel game, perhaps.

Looking at the forecast, I’m not so sure we’ll make it through the heart of the week. It’s going to warm up into the upper 50s by the weekend—perhaps a balmy 59° for my time on the porch Friday—but by then we might have consumed all the Halloween candy for fuel.

I was thinking recently about the training I’ve had for this experience. It’s more than just the winter camping trip with Scoutmaster John Hay.

When I was growing up in the big house on Cawley Road, I wanted a bedroom of my own so I took over the small “sewing room” as the previous owners called it. I loved the place, but it had no heating duct.

I used a sleeping bag in the winter and that went fine until that one fateful night when the bag’s zipper came into contact with the prongs of an electrical plug that wasn’t snugly pushed into place. A rather shocking episode.

I made it through college in warm abodes, but then came a drafty room in Saginaw and the daily commute to work by bicycle in a Michigan winter.

After that was the little school house in rural Maine. It had a wood stove that did a good job of heating as long as the fire didn’t go out in the night. There were extremely cold mornings, and if I recall, the shower never got really hot, either. That cold Maine winter surely contributed to my hardiness this morning.

Next came a series of rooms and apartments in Portland, Oregon. Two were good; the middle one was not.

I had a short stay in an apartment near the downtown during a winter when Portland had some ice. I described the kitchen of my place as the only walk-in freezer with a view of Mt. Hood. What a luxury to glance out the window and see Hoody miles away to the east. What a mountain.

But I couldn’t look for long because it was literally freezing. The exterior wall of the room was all drafty windows. Through those windows I could hear the screaming next door, the threats of murder, as if they were standing right in my freezer.

After a couple of chilly weeks, I gave up my damage deposit and got out of there. I’ll bet the landlord used the money to fix the windows.

I guess I’ve stayed fairly warm in the subsequent years back home in Morenci. Winter mornings have always been a challenge since Colleen turns the thermostat way down when she goes to bed, then doesn’t get up until I’ve come down and raised it back up.

A friend of ours was doing the same “How long can we go without heat?” thing until a week or so ago when a friend of her kids came over to visit and she gave in.

No one has entered our home so we continue to tough it out alone. Colleen even mentioned Laura Ingalls Wilder last night and “The Long Winter” book. I reminded her that Laura at least had warm stones placed in her bed.

If we do make it to Halloween, I’m afraid that’s only going to encourage Ms. Leddy.

“Let’s go ‘til your birthday.”

“Let’s see if we can make it to Thanksgiving.”

I gotta go. I’m going outside to warm up.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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