Erica Lucke Dean

"Making the world a better place, one book at a time."

no coal for the fire

I feel a bit like Bob Cratchit, hovering near a pitiful little fire this cold December night. And like Bob Cratchit, I'm unable to add more coal because a crotchety old spend-thrift has the coal box under lock and key.

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Ok, so I'm not sitting by a coal fire, I'm sitting by a kerosine heater...so close I'm almost afraid I might combust, and deathly afraid the dog will fart and send the whole house up. Even perched close enough to touch the sad little flame, my fingers are too cold to type. It's been like this all day, ever since my husband, we'll just call him Scrooge, decided we needed to "find a new level of comfort." To practice for the zombie apocalypse, whatever that means.

Apparently, that means we freeze to death, all in the name of "saving money and resources."

Coincidentally,  this is the coldest day since I moved into this drafty old farmhouse almost ten months ago. Outside temperatures hovered around the mid-thirties all day long, and the temperature inside my house has held at sixty-five degrees, according to the thermostat on the wall. But I don't buy it for a minute. My thermostat is either a liar or it's been tricked. My house is practically cold enough to store milk. The refrigerator hasn't cycled on all day. And I think I saw ice crystals in the toilet bowl. This idea of "a new level of comfort," simply means I need to get used to being cold.

I think the husband referred to it as roughing it.

Well, I've never been a "roughing it" sort of girl. I can't help it. Sure, I live on a farm. And yes, I fraternize with chickens on a daily basis. Okay, so I'm on a first name basis with a bunch of ducks. This does not mean I'm ready to time travel to the days before electricity and central heat. I'm not going to suddenly take up knitting or spinning my own wool. I don't even like wool that much. And don't get me started on sheep. What I need is a plan.

All day long, I appealed to Mr. Scrooge, begging him for another lump of coal for my sorry ass fire. Making him fill the kerosene heater, because, basically, it scares the crap out of me. I'm convinced I'll somehow set myself on fire. And as cold as I am, I'm not quite that desperate...yet. Instead, I wrapped myself up in fuzzy socks, sweat pants and my favorite Eddie Bauer sweatshirt, refusing to shower because that would mean I'd have to undress, and hovered near the heater like I was seducing it, as I waited him out, throwing out subliminal messages all day to remind him of how cold it was. 

It was like playing a game of chess, and it was his move.

He couldn't fool me, he was freezing his ass off too. I could see it in his eyes...he was wavering on the whole, "new level of comfort," crap, until finally, somewhere around dinner time, he admitted defeat. "I'm too cold to concentrate. I can't work like this," he said, pulling on a woolen hat and a pair of gloves.

I just smiled, my teeth chattering. "Does this mean we can we turn the heat up now?"

He nodded and adjusted the thermostat before leading me through the house to the car, where he quickly cranked the heat to full blast and drove us to the closest drive-thru for hot food. 

The car was like a sauna. It felt so good, I was giddy. We sat in the car with the engine running for almost an hour, bringing our body temperatures back to somewhere above the hypothermia range, as we scarfed down fast food and waited for the house to warm up.

The thermostat is holding at sixty-eight now. Three degrees is a small victory, but I'll take it, and I'll work on sixty-nine tomorrow. Maybe even work him up to seventy by the weekend. Until then, I'm keeping the heater. I sort of like it. All I need now is a nice mantle to go around it, and I can hang stockings by the fire. It's still Christmas, after all.

Until the next time...I'll be sleeping in my sexiest sweats to stay warm.

Copyright © 2000-2016, Erica Lucke Dean. All rights reserved. Any retranscription or reproduction is prohibited and illegal.