In case you were absent that day, here’s a quick refresher course on what was going on in the world in the year 1790:
- George Washington was president of the United States
- The Supreme Court was founded
- Benjamin Franklin died
- The French Revolution was in its early days
- The Russo-Turkish war was in full swing
- The Bounty mutineers settled on Pitcairn Island
- Mozart premiered Cosi fan tutte but was otherwise having a very bad year
- Japan was in the middle of its culturally rich Edo period
- Quakers petitioned Congress for the abolition of slavery
- Chrysanthemums were first brought from China to England
- Yarn was successfully spun (whee!) at a cotton mill in Rhode Island
And . . . the house we live in was built.
Have I mentioned that we live in a genuine antique? If the town’s records are correct, This Old House was built in 1790.
It’s a funky little New England clapboardfarmhouse, once blue, now buff, in a state of ongoing low-level disrepair. Sometimes we get ahead, sometimes it’s “Homeowners 0, Entropy 1.” Between April and November, it’s just a delightful place to live. December is usually okay, too.
But January . . . that’s a different story. And, except for last year, when it was freakishly warm here, every Martin Luther King weekend that we’ve lived here (and this is our 21st January at this location), we’ve had our own personal deep freeze. The pipes are routinely iced up on this mid-January weekend, so much so that we just automatically lay in a store of bottled water and paper plates ahead of time. And we fill the upstairs bathtub, a high-sided, free-standing, cast iron monster of a tub, with as much water as it will hold, since we’ll be using this water for flushing the upstairs toilet for a few days (the downstairs bathroom is simply declared off-limits).
Weatherbug tells me that just outside our door it’s -4°. When Second Child left for school this morning, staying inside until she saw the headlights of the bus, it was 4 degrees colder.
So that’s where we stand today. As I write this I’ve abandoned the desk in my office, where it’s uncomfortably chilly, and am camped out with my laptop in the den (where a nicely efficient space heater rules), the couch blanket over my shoulders, wearing wool socks, wool fingerless gloves, and with my feet propped on the hot water bottle. No photos today because my camera is in the other room and I’m too cozy here to unwrap and go and get it.
I’m not really whining. I fully appreciate how lucky we are to have a nice little house, to have heat (even though the furnace is busting its butt to keep up with today’s sub-0 temps), to have fingerless gloves and a hot water bottle at all.
But today the art form is the fine art of staying warm.