Chill of It All

How does the oil go so fast? We had a delivery less than a month ago and yet tonite I see the telltale signs of a tank below the intake level; the thermostats dipping below fifty and that ominous blinking green light on the furnace. So it’s time to share a bedroom again, time to heat the kitchen with the Brady bunch double ovens. We’ve ridden out times like this before, and I know it’s ultimately going to be ok, but when I got back from checking on things in the basement, Elihu was in tears. He said he could ‘just feel the negative energy in the house’. ‘Well, kid’, I think, ‘waddya want? I can’t fix everything all the time. I do my best, and that’s all I can do’. I don’t say what I’m thinking though. I keep my mom cool and put a positive spin on it – it’ll be like camping, it’ll be cozy – like it must have been in the old days. I remind him we don’t live in a tent or a longhouse – can you just imagine? (I don’t think I have the stuff to live like that.) So no matter how the next twenty-four hours pan out, we have electricity, and at the end of the day it’s a lifesaver. Glad we have Mario Brothers on a night like this. Need a distraction besides homework.

Our heating oil guy is wonderfully reliable, and if he can see his way to a delivery of less than his usual minimum, or if I can get a bit of assistance from mom, it’ll be crisis averted. I’m not thrilled about needing him so often though (nor do I feel good about always going to my mother when the shit hits the fan), and it’s got me scratching my head about our oil use. I turn the heat down to fifty when we leave during the day times, and at nighttime I don’t usually go above sixty-eight, and in fact try to keep it closer to sixty-five most nights. So what’s going on here? I don’t know, and not knowing has me a bit panicked. Mom had told us to go ahead and look into pricing out having the attic insulated, but this past year it just didn’t seem an expense worth getting into. Now I think I might have to take her up on it. Can’t do anything about it now, but I’m certainly motivated to get moving on it as soon as we’re able.

But for now we just gotta get over this hump. I look ahead to my own long-term life plans and I find myself yearning for a life without all this relentless cold and snow. I never thought I’d be one of those folks who gave up the great Northeast for North Carolina, but it’s beginning to feel like an option. I’ve always loved the seasons, and I’ve felt incredibly blessed to live where we do. And I’ve always thought our modest house was just perfect. But will it always be? I reflect on all the upkeep. Hmm. Maybe I might return one day to apartment living. That has its appeal, too. Who needs a garden and chickens? It’s all so much work – plus it’s the kind that gets harder as one grows older. I begin to flesh out this idea for a minute. Imagine having no driveway to plow, no shoveling, no frozen water troughs to keep on top of, no threat of frozen pipes or the reality of a house with frost on the inside of the windows. Although the thought of a simpler life appeals in this moment, it also kinda feels like giving up, wimping out. But right now – from the inside of my rapidly-chilling house – it seems like a Utopian existence. My mother speaks with contempt for those who flee the northern states for the south. They’re clearly not made of very strong stuff. And while I myself had never seriously considered spending my aged years anyplace other than this house, or at least this part of the world (this latitude, more accurately), I begin to long for a more moderate climate with less rigorous heating requirements. I know the globe is heating up, but tonite it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Other stuff’s weighing on my mind tonite too. A friend responded to my recent post, the last one in which I called attention to my tip jar. I had thought it a fairly polite post, nothing terribly whiney about it (not so much more than the usual, I suppose), but she pointed out to me that most people had it hard. That it wasn’t just me – and that folks weren’t in a position to help with all of their own burdens. Yeah, I can totally see that. I’m sure many folks are working extremely hard at surviving. But you don’t hear about it, cuz they’re not writing about it on a public platform. And I get that not everyone will agree with what I write. But that’s kinda the point here – my goal is to express myself without censorship. Guess I have to be ready to accept the occasional consequences. But I still stand by my post; the point remains that I have had tens of thousands of visits and only five donations. Ya know?

And then over supper Elihu disclosed to me something that one of his classmates had expressed to him about his mother not being thrilled with me. This child is delightful, and he and Elihu each ask me all the time to organize a play date. I haven’t done so in a few months only because I’ve been rather beset with life – but it seemed we were approaching a good time to get it going. But apparently, I’m not seen as ‘Waldorf enough’ by this kid’s mom for her to feel comfortable with setting one up. Or at least that was the gist of things in this kid’s words. And I know we’re getting into second generation, he-said, she-said territory here, but nonetheless the news was a bit shocking. I know that I do allow my child to play video games – but damn, he has chicken chores, practices his bass without prompting and finishes his homework. Plus he reads like crazy. And can identify hundreds of birds (without benefit of color) because he looks through field guides as a hobby. And he honors and thanks his food before he eats. Honestly, what is the problem here? Again I run a little internal monologue to myself… ‘you probably live on your smart phone, lady. That sure aint very Waldorf…’ Hell, I don’t even have a smart phone. How low tech can one get?

My life is generally a sweet one, and I know I have the love and support of so many friends, but I find myself stuck on these two things tonite. Man. I try to be a good person, I try my very best to show kindness to everyone I interact with – truly, I do. And I’m not full of shit here – I sincerely want a good, equal and honest relationship with everyone I deal with. My main goal these days is to live with as much transparency as possible. So I don’t get it. Maybe in my desire to please and get along there’s some element of timidity apparent in my demeanor – or perhaps even an impression of seeming aloof. I have been misinterpreted in the past for appearing unfriendly when the truth of the matter was that I was just trying to be neutral and unprovocative. It seems here I may have had the opposite effect. Oh crap. I am at heart a big fucking wimp. I can’t tolerate not being liked very well. Maybe I need thicker skin. Hmm. Maybe that. Or Xanax. !!

Gotta get back to it. Dinner, homework, a little time going over my new music on the piano. Bedtime will be sweet relief. A big, warm bed and a little time to just forget it all and chill.

Post Script: The heat’s back on, but not without a few glitches in the form of micro leaks which may be compromising the system’s ability to work at maximum efficiency. Ah, but it’s working. Seems with this super cold of late we’ll have to economize even more with lower temperature settings. I’ll end up sounding just like my mother… “if you’re cold – put on a sweater!” 

3 thoughts on “Chill of It All

  1. Ah yes – I can relate – not Waldorf enough…or not Eco-friendly enough or not Shabby-chic enough…..every thing has its purists I’m afraid. We live in an area with crop and animal farming but we live on the only vineyard/winery – we don’t own it, we just have to live here because the boss likes to use the house as an excuse not to raise the husband’s wage…but because of it most of the wives in the district have shunned us and so have their kids. Sad fact that there are just people in the world who don’t get it…get others, at all. I read your tip post with sadness as we are struggling too – and I know it doesn’t warm the house or pay the fees but if I was able to I would give…heck I would employ you to write for my publishing house (because in my dream scenario I have one lol). Alas I am stuck here unable to help but to tell you that those who can give should but may not, those who cannot, even if just for the moment, read this here for that reason….because you are honest, upfront and open about how you get through these challenges – and as a result your writing is priceless because someone, somewhere gets to not feel alone or gets to smile that day. I hope you know that and I hope that this year turns up trumps for you – in every wonderful way. TC

    1. Oh Charlotte, you’re so kind. I can’t thank you enough (and for your thoughts on the “Learning to Fly” post – in spite of the hiccups, we do love Waldorf). You’ve helped me make it through this little rough patch! Emotional support is worth more than money. I still can’t wrap my brain around the shunning thing… seriously, how friggin medieval. Can’t people just look with open hearts? Very few things are truly dangerous or threatening besides snobbery or close-mindedness. Argh. Preaching to the converted, I am! Again, we both send our thanks and love right back. btw – Elihu has wanted to visit Australia since he could first speak. Seriously. (He wants me to tell you he loves Wallabies. He did his animal project last year on them.) Australia, Viet Nam and Italy are the 3 places we two aspire to visit together one day. We shall see… enjoy your warmth!

      1. We hope you do make it over here one day – we have lived and travelled Australia extensively…so we can tell you all the little known spots. Tell Elihu we get wallabies in the vineyard (they are partial to grapes!) along with echidnas, emus, lots of snakes, birds galore (particularly cockatoos of many colours) and (because they have run feral in Australia) deer. Our most obvious residents are the wombats though – we have lots of them and often see them when we go for dusk walks. My girl says if he’d like a pen pal in Australia she’d love one in the US :) We are mailing you spring first up though – we’ve got more than enough sunshine to share :D Take care

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