Tag Archives: Fireplace

Yay, November!

Embrace November, with its nasty weather and nastier heating bills?

Warm hats have gone AWOL, except the pom-pom wonder Aunt Mabel knitted last Christmas. Buttonless and zipper-challenged coats should have been dry-cleaned in August. Umbrellas are too obsessed with their broken ribs to provide protection.

Fortunately, fireplaces ignite so we can toast our toes. Along with the season’s first steaming cup of hot chocolate, we’ll savor equally delicious books.

Although, authors sometimes diss November. Poet Robert Burns speaks of “chill November’s surly blast,” and in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s alter ego, Jo March, considers November the worst month of the year: “That’s the reason I was born in it.”

But readers rejoice that both Jo and Louisa made their first appearance in November, along with C.S. Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson, Madeleine L’Engle, Stephen Crane, William Blake and Mark Twain.

My dad also was born this month. Pastor, missionary, tie-hater, woodchopper, even at age 91 — without him, I remind my husband, I wouldn’t be here. Another reason to appreciate November, right?

Hubby pleads the Fifth.

Continuing on.

Cozied up on November evenings, we forget about washing windows or putting away garden hoses and patio furniture. If coulda-shouldas yammer, congratulate yourself that you are not wearing a back brace like the people who did.

November also grants a few weeks to meet pre-holiday weight loss goals. But why let downer diet thoughts bother you? The red top and black pants you’ve worn the past 19 Christmases will suffice.

Speaking of weight, ice cream lovers don’t stand in long lines in November. So what if it’s cold? Be brave. Add hot fudge or caramel to counteract frostbite. An even more appropriate choice: warm peanut butter, as November is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month.

It’s also International Drum Month in which we celebrate school bands whose stirring rhythms warm frozen football crowds. Mothers whose toddlers bang toy drums may not cheer much, nor parents whose garages house teen bands. But November 19, Have a Bad Day Day, serves these moms and dads well.

All that daylight we saved since March is nowhere to be found. But November, National Sleep Comfort Month, confirms that snuggling in bed an extra hour only makes sense.

Jogging in the dark doesn’t.

Nor does yard work — especially with the blessing of an early snow. If we’re lucky, frozen ground won’t permit our planting 900 bulbs bought while under the influence of Lowe’s commercials.

Then we can watch football, “Face the Nation” or “Punkin Chunkin,” depending on whether we want to cheer the demise of quarterbacks, politicians, or vegetables. We’ll welcome Thanksgiving with true gratitude that we remain safe in our recliners.

Yay, November!

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about November?

The Fire Is So Delightful

When we moved into our first house with a fireplace, a primeval pyro urge pumped through our veins. A friend gave us firewood, appropriately enough, as a housewarming gift. We could hardly wait to rest chilly bones by a roaring fire, snuggling close with our children and toasting marshmallows.

The kids would say, “Tell us stories from long ago, Mom and Dad. Teach us your words of wisdom.” When we needed wood, they would fight for the privilege to trudge into the cold and haul it in.

We built a real fire. Once.

My pyromaniac father considers this immoral. He turns on gas heaters only in an emergency (if the U.S. is attacked by ice aliens). We wear shorts during visits, even in January, because Dad builds fires that make us sweat like August athletes.

He designs woodpiles as objets d’art. The wood must be perfect in composition, age and texture. With the precise calculations of an engineer, he stacks it in symmetrical rows, and woe to the bumbling, fumbling fool who upsets his perfect balance.

Dad mostly grants sons and grandsons the privilege of helping. Occasionally he extends this glorious favor to granddaughters. But I, his 60-something daughter, endure the ignominy of being left out with a martyr’s smile. Somebody has to sleep in front of football games.

Occasionally, we adult children consider buying him firewood because we fear for his safety and well-being. But we don’t, because we fear for ours. The wood never meets his standards, and Dad, seasoned by years of chopping, can also throw it.

My wussy fireplace

My siblings and I confess, to our shame, that we have not inherited his noble fire-building genes. We own wussy gas fireplaces with ceramic logs and fake coal beds that don’t emit the magic fragrance of wood smoke. We, the children of hardy pioneer stock, use decorative fire pokers and shovels to hit the ON button. From the sofa. Before we fall asleep in front of football.

Occasionally, Dad has visited, condescending to sit by our fireplace and marvel at its convenience. Just the same, we hide any old Boy Scout hatchets hanging in the garage and count our trees every morning.

We stand in awe of our father — but we keep his fire-building activities a deep, dark family secret. After all, we don’t want him to get in trouble with the government. Despite extensive research, they still don’t know Dad is the primary cause of global warming.

And if they try to take away his ax or woodpiles, we know Dad will get a little fired up.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you use your fireplace? Is it the real thing? Or fake?