Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Michigan Winter - Suburban Survival Tactics

Fall is my favorite season. I love the smell and crunchiness of the fallen leaves so much I don't even mind sweeping them off our deck. I love reintroducing corduroy pants, jackets and boots back into my wardrobe. And I love taking long drives in the country and seeing the leaves changing colors. It's spectacular. I met and fell in love with MDH in the fall so it's also the anniversary of our first date and subsequent wedding.

Since moving to Michigan fall has also become the season that I start worrying about winter. In Columbus winters are fairly mild compared to Grand Rapids. It's typically 10-15 degrees warmer down there and snows about half as much. During winters in Columbus you're more likely to experience nasty gray skies that pummel you with sharp bursts of icy cold rain than the endless mountains of snow we get in GR. Unpleasant as that may seem, in Columbus you also are likely to get week long stretches of sunny 60 degree temperatures in the middle of January or February. It's weird weather, but that balance always worked for me. I didn't like winter, but I didn't hate it either. Maybe I was just used to it.

I've come to hate winter since moving here. This year I want things to be different so I've devised list of tactics I'm going to try to do to make our life here more tolerable. I don't expect to suddenly love winter, but I'm hoping this year I won't want to crawl into a hole and die.
  • I will open the drapes every day. In previous years I have kept them closed because the sight of all the muddy snow was depressing and having to see my neighbors and be seen (no foliage between our yards) was uncomfortable. So our house was very gloomy. This year underwear sightings be damned - Lady needs some sunshine.

  • I will buy and decorate a Christmas tree for the holidays. Due to the combination of not being Christians and having busy travel schedules , we've gone the last couple of years without one, but there's something quite cheerful about the smell of pine and the sparkle of the lights. There won't be any presents under it, and it could turn out to be either a big giant cat toy or big giant litter box as Turtle is quite young and has never seen a Christmas tree before. It's worth a shot. (This kitty looks kinda like Turtle.)

  • We will use our fireplaces. We've got two, one upstairs and one in the basement. I'm a little afraid of them because, well, it's lighting a huge fire in the middle of your home. Plus I used to work for a fire restoration company. Fireplaces are dangerous and I'm not sure we are smart enough to operate one, but we've got to try. They are cozy and cheerful and I will need as much of that as I can get. If things go awry maybe a week or so in a hospital burn unit will break up the monotony and at least I will know we made an effort.

  • Diet be damned I'm going to bake cookies and things. I'm thinking it'll keep the house smelling nice and our badly insulated 1948 oven will help keep the house warm too.

  • I will wear appropriate footwear when going outdoors. I've got to just break down and buy some honking big snow boots. In previous years I could be seen tip-toeing daintily down the driveway and across parking lots in soggy suede flats. Idiot.

  • I will wear hats that cover my ears when going outdoors. I look fabulous in hats anyway.

  • I will try not to be too upset or self conscious if I get hat head.

That's all I've got for now. There is one big issue I'm not sure how to tackle - so send me your suggestions if you've got any:

  • Cold toilet seats. What can you do? Previously I just hovered but that gets tiresome. Plus unless you are an Olympic gymnast, a Yoga Instructor or some other kind of person with amazing balance how can you read in that position?
    In my own home I dread having to pee and that's just crazy. Once I even went thru a phase where I tried pre-warming the seat with the high/hot setting on my hair dryer but that's a bit noisy for those middle of the night visits and the cord doesn't reach all the way. MDH also pointed out the danger created by the combination of having a plugged in appliance so close to water and my underdeveloped motor skills. I don't want to burn the house down, but I also don't want my heart to stop when I sit down.


Churlita said...

I try to celebrate sluggish lounging in the Winter. In the Summer I feel too guilty, but when Winter rolls around, I get so into the comfort side of things. I love blankets and pillows, and gigantic ugly sweatpants (of course, I'm single and the way I'm going,probably will be for life) and watching movies and playing video games. I highly recommend embracing it too.

Susan as herself said...

I have no suggestions re: the cold toilet seat...sorry.

But I will tell you how I combat the feeling of exposure re: the view out (and in) the windows:

I live in a ground floor apartment, and every winter before the ground gets too frozen I buy several bundles of evergreen boughs and stick them in my window boxes, which are empty and filled with old dirt from summer. I stick the boughs in there (and sometimes add those red dyed twigs you see in floral shops) until the box is very full and lush. I repeat in each window box in front of every "exposed window. It's nothing major and not expensive, but it's surprising how much of a difference it makes, both mentally and visually. When you look out, you see bits of green and a shielded view. And people looking at your house see loveliness. :)

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Hi Susan - Thanks for the tip!!

Tom the Pooklekufr said...

You could just hire a 400 pound gorilla to sit on it right before you do.

But then, that's what husbands are for.

Matt said...

When I lived in Japan they had heated toilet seats. You can get them here : http://www.nextag.com/heated-toilet-seat/search-html

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Tom & Matt: Thanks for stopping by!

Tom: I try in all situations to visit the bathroom before my husband contaminates it.

Matt: Thanks for the tip - those toilet seats are a bit pricey for our budget and our toilet is a bit too far away from an electrical source without a serious remodel.