Sunday, January 3, 2010


Another deep-freeze today around This Old House. There's probably a whirlpool in the fuel tank for the furnace it's running so hard trying to keep up. And I've only got it set on 62. This is ridiculous. I know it's now January and all that but come on. I didn't venture any farther than the back door to let the dogs out all day and even they weren't very enthused about that. This is when the crazy, fixed-female pooch Angel wishes she could have a litter box like the Blue Eyed Demon cat so she wouldn't have to be on her run at all. The fur-ball ex-male Cosmo on the other hand...he may not like the cold but he goes out, rolls in the snow and toboggans around the yard on his back anyway. No accounting for taste.

Yes, it's bitter, nose-dripping, finger-numbing, beard-freezing, miserable cold and the wind is screaming straight out of the west again; probably by way of Dante's Ninth Circle of Hell as raw as it is. It pretty much goes in one side of Old Breezy and out the other by way of the insulation-less gaps in the planks, except for some more determined drafts which take a shortcut through the single pane window glass, helped along by the holes the cat tore in the shrink-wrap. I guess the varmint wanted to see out better but I sort of wish he'd help with the oil if he's going to take liberties with what little wind barricade there is.

This is just too much house for one guy to bang around in, especially with weather like today's. I can't wear enough sweaters and woollies to keep warm in this creaky old wind tunnel alone.
Chris and the kids are en route home from their travels and their absence makes the hearth even colder than that west wind. There just isn't any life in the four walls without them, only a big empty hole in the storm that just barely keeps out the snow. Come to think of it...whenever I'm away from them, it doesn't matter if it's a hundred in the shade, it gets damn-awful cold in the house and soul. Even when we pass each other in the night as we so often do when I'm on the road trains, just knowing we all pause at the same home and share the same roof in our sleep keeps the family fire burning.

Time away from each other truly does 'make the heart grow fonder' as the saying goes and God knows, we get plenty of it in our world. The cold hangs around and hopes to stay whenever the time starts to get long. Even so, we usually manage to meet in our journeys often enough to keep the coals glowing and our toes toasty. But too much time away and too often apart can bring even a warm summer breeze to whisper of frost and falling leaves. We all go our separate ways day by day with a common place to call home and that's as it should be. Without that coming and going though, when it's just gone, there's nothing here but a stack of wood, nails, dog hair and dust.

Maybe that's why even a new house falls apart so fast when a family moves out and leaves it. By rights, a place old or new should last for years, completely empty, without much fixing. I should know since 'deferred maintenance' is defined by ours. But somehow I think the life goes out of it, the cold creeps in and before it's time, what used to be a home just falls in on itself and dies of loneliness. I think home can only be a home when we all make our way there and call it our own.

All I know for sure is this old place is way too big to fill with just needs the brothers extraordinary, the wife of my life and the noise of the four-leggers to drown out the freezing west wind. To live, it needs us all.

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