It’s not getting hot in here

As my house gets colder and colder with winter’s approach, I have made a decision. If I have to turn on the central heating, I am going to forward my bill to the idiot architect who designed this house with cathedral ceilings and a silly little fireplace.
Cathedral ceilings are good for two things — cathedrals and spiders. I have never been impressed with how they look and I am thoroughly underwhelmed by the wasted space. My children’s bedrooms are both the size of a large closet, but — wow — we have really fashionable pockets of hot air hovering uselessly above the living room each winter. I want my spiders to be comfortable, after all. I can turn on the ceiling fan, but then the warm air becomes a cool breeze. Not exactly what we were shooting for.
My husband particularly loves a fireplace blazing, and buoyed by the persistent optimism that it will heat the house, he lights it up almost every winter evening. If it burns long enough, it generally heats the family room, but it doesn’t really do much for the upper floors. As I climb the stairs and feel the 20-degree drop in temperature, I suffer a pang of longing for the adorable Franklin iron stove we left behind in our easily-heated, single-story bungalow in Los Angeles. If I had my way, we would have popped it loose and loaded it on top of our car, trailing ashes all the way south. We would have looked like the Clampetts rolling into town, but our heating bill would be peanuts. We have considered installing one here, but it would look a tad survivalist to have a cast iron stove sitting inches away from a built-in fireplace, so we make do.
However, in our house, the utilities come out of my budget. This means that you are likely to find me walking around the house wearing long underwear and two sweatshirts under a cashmere sweater rather than flip
on that thermostat. My wimpy family holds staunchly to the concept of the endless summer, refusing to even put on socks. They have nonetheless perfected the “I’m coooooold” refrain. Sometimes I give in, but the minute that furnace roars into action, I see dollar signs racing out the door. Now that gives me chills.
On the positive side of our fireplace fetish was my discovery of the gas kindling pipe. My parents had one, but it took a decade for me to realize that for a few dollars, I could have one installed. When I finally did, I was beyond joy. I had struggled pathetically for years scrunching up newspaper, searching for tiny, combustible kindling and still rarely managing a decent fire. I know I am still sending money up the chimney, but I see it as loose change rather than greenbacks.
My husband likes his fires roaring to the point that we sometimes fear setting the roof on fire. I shouldn’t have been surprised when we reached the end of our first winter with a gas pipe and I discovered it had simply melted. Never having taken chemistry, I just didn’t see that coming. Yet another reason to study more science.
Meanwhile, we are stacking logs in a spot close enough to grab easily yet far enough from the house to avoid encouraging termites. We admit we are happily ensconced in Southern California where real weather rarely happens, and our temperatures scarcely get near freezing. But that sun has to go down every night. That’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it.


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