boxland/coldland/mudland

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Unpacking is taking forever.  I don’t know why I thought it would be any different than packing, but I did.  This house has a root cellar with a loose dirt floor (it’s frightening; Leo calls it “the dungeon”) so that’s not a storage option.  The attic is accessible only by ladder, so that’s not a storage option.  The pantry is slated for some surface renovation after all the windows are redone, so I can’t put stuff in there.  And the windows are being redone in the servants’ quarters so that’s off limits too.  People in the early 1800s probably owned 1/128th of the stuff we do, which I guess I knew yet never really thought about, and I just have no where to put it (there isn’t even a linen closet or a medicine cabinet – where did they keep their cocaine-laced snake oil???).

Also, people in the early 1800s didn’t have electricity.  The house was wired in the 1920s, according to the electrician, and not updated.  There are rooms with only one or two outlets, none of them GFIs (well, until yesterday when I had the electricians out).  The entire upstairs is on one circuit.  That wouldn’t much be an issue if there was a heat source upstairs.  There isn’t.  At all.  I keep trying to commiserate with people in Vermont about the INSANE WEIRDNESS that is not having heat in the bedrooms but everyone just shrugs their shoulders and says that they have no heat upstairs too.  There aren’t any fireplaces or woodstoves upstairs either.  Just cold.  So I bought some space heaters.  But we can only use one at a time without blowing a circuit.

I asked the electrician about splitting the circuit so my babies wouldn’t freeze.  He got kind of a faraway look in his eye, paused for a moment, and said “that’s a big job”.  He then went on about something involving 14 wire, BTX, jargon, jargon, jargon.  End of the story: I don’t think we’re getting more power upstairs.  So it’s fun at night to pick which kid gets heat which night.  Two boys share a room, so they have quantity going for them.  But theirs is a south-facing room that is generally the warmest.  So maybe my daughter whose outlet, up until yesterday, only worked when the bathroom light was on.  Or the baby, because he’ll wake up at night.  I actually had a problem in Michigan keeping the boys from running around half-dressed.  That problem was instantly solved when we moved.

Leo and I have an electric mattress pad that was a wedding present.  We only used it for a few months a decade ago until I became pregnant with Owen and decided the heat would make him grow 4 arms or horns or something in utero.  It’s just the thing in VT, though.  And I have been sleeping so well with the cozy warm bed and the 58 degree room.  I used to wake up at night to go to the bathroom or watch tv, but the freezing temps and the warm bed have completely solved that problem.

We got our first heating bill in Vermont – $648 for a month.  Again, no one blinks an eye at this.  Everyone uses oil heat here and everyone lives in an old, drafty house.  There’s a new natural gas pipeline planned for the county, which could bring a much cheaper heating option.  From the hand-drawn roadside signs you would think natural gas was a liquid form of pure evil whose only purpose was the ecological destruction of everything in it’s path.  I don’t get how using a petroleum product that might as well be liquid gold for what it costs is any better, but I also haven’t really broke in, socially-speaking, with the marker-wielding sign drawers who are against all change period.

Despite what still feels like freezing cold temperatures, the snow is finally giving way to cold mud.  I’m honestly not sure where the driveway ends and the yard begins.  The mud is bad enough that I carefully patrol all entrances and exits, making sure that NO ONE EVER wears shoes in the house.  It’s intense.

All the kvetching aside, things are slowly moving along in the right direction here.  The kids are enjoying school (although it looks like Mary might be dyslexic) and we’re certainly plenty busy.  Eventually it might even be spring and – who knows? – possibly even summer.

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