Tag Archives: Fireplace

I’m Glad I’m Not in Florida

Image in PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

Maybe you think I, from chilly Indiana, have finally flipped?

Perhaps I can persuade you to see things my way.

First, pleasant weather conditions during winter confuse us Hoosiers worse than a time change. Is it January or June? Has someone sneaked six months past us?

Lovely weather also demands we go outdoors. If I’d been raised in Florida, my mother would never have let me inside: “Sunshine’s good for you!”

If I were a Floridian, I’d have to do (gulp) yard work. I much prefer curling up each winter with my sherpa throw to read or watch basketball.

In Florida, forget about warm fuzzies. Or the waistline-camouflage layers I love.

Besides, we Midwesterners enjoy griping about weather. Could we survive without our favorite pastime?

If Indiana’s environment resembled Florida’s, our state would be flooded with touristy relatives. Hoosier parents do bribe grown children to come home for Christmas. Soon, though, bored offspring return to nests elsewhere. As a result, parents truly own their homes and cars.

Speaking of cars, no one in the Midwest keeps vehicles clean during winter as expected in Florida.

Besides, without wintry mix, we and our cars would miss the joy of doing figure eights on the interstate. That’s the only wild life we experience after New Year’s.

Regarding Florida’s wildlife: boo for bugs the size of Volkswagens! While winter camping might prove more fun there, alligator warning signs made me rethink my antipathy toward raccoons. They might steal a week’s groceries, but raccoons don’t abscond with several limbs as well.

Becoming a snowbird requires the packing and moving I despise. Besides, snowbirds inhabit rows and rows of mobile homes so close dwellers know their neighbors are eating Popeyes’ fried chicken for the third time this week.

Finally, wouldn’t Florida’s continuous green grow monotonous? The never-changing, brilliant blue of sea and sky?

Sure, we Hoosiers endure dreary months. But nothing will excite us like the first baby leaves that invade Old Man Winter’s domain. Sunny daffodils will send us into spring ecstasy.

Poor Floridians know nothing of these extreme Hoosier joys. Pity them.

And move closer to the fire.

Image by s-wlocyzyk 2 from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where would you like to spend the winter?

The Catch-Up-to-Fall Challenge

Image by Alper omer essin from Pixabay.

Many homeowners in my small town not only have caught up with fall, they can rock on porches or by fireplaces — depending on temperatures — until Thanksgiving.

Their scraggly flowers now nourish compost piles. These Fall Go-Getters ordered bulbs in July and have planted them in well-fertilized beds.

Why hurry them to the compost pile? They’re still blooming, aren’t they?

On a scale of one to five, they’ve earned a six.

My flowerbeds? Half-dead blooms huddle around my house — though the fake, sunflower-laden hat on our front door earns two points.

Super-organized souls not only keep up with the seasons, they forge ahead. By August, autumn wreaths adorned their doors. “Welcome, Fall!” signs, pumpkins and jewel-colored chrysanthemums decorated their porches by September 1. Six points.

One house boasted acres of inflatable skeletons and chain saw murderers. Must I give credit to these scary overachievers?

Sigh. They must have worked day and night. Six points.

However, I itched to inform those Halloween enthusiasts about my porch’s genuine spider webs, which stick to visitors when they enter. Now, that’s fall authenticity. Three points for me.

Image by M.H. from Pixabay.

Especially since cobwebs abound not only outside, but inside. Cleaning disturbs autumn’s ambience, so I avoid it. Two points for me.

I do envy self-starters their autumn interior décor (six points again). Fireplace mantels boast Hobby Lobby’s colorful leaves and fall flower arrangements, 50 percent off. Mine still features tulips — but peach-colored, like some fall leaves. Don’t they count for a half-point?

So far, Go-Getters have scored 24 points. Me? Seven-and-a-half.

Image by Katherine Gomez from Pixabay.

But, wait. There’s more!

Go-Getters’ freezers, defrosted last spring, abound with perfectly stacked storage containers of homegrown, self-picked produce labeled with contents, date and time processed.

Six points again.

However, homegrown and self-picked produce also abounds in my freezer. So, there!

But I must remove 10 sort-of-labeled, amoeba-shaped packages to find something unexpired for supper. Three points.

Fall Go-Getters: 30. Me: 10-and-a-half.

It’s only October. I’ll make a run between now and Thanksgiving.

Then Hubby peers outside. “Beautiful day. Want to go for a hike?”

Image by Jane Botova from Pixabay.

If I do, I’ll never catch up …

“Sure.”

Light shimmers through oaks’ and maples’ leaves embroidered with scarlet, gold and russet. Crickets and cicadas sing an end-of-summer concert. Cornfields rustle a welcome: “Our Creator throws a great harvest party, doesn’t He!”

I’ve caught up with fall.

This Go-Slower earns nothing, but she’s just been given 100 points.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you caught up with fall?

Seasonal Trade-Off

Image by Tikovka1355 from Pixabay.

As a kid, did you ever trade your lunchbox Hostess cupcake for a classmate’s homemade cookies?

Then realized the chocolate chips were sneaky raisins. That your classmate’s mother considered sugar the devil’s invention.

Some of us seem destined for the short straw.

This month, though, we Hoosiers trade summer for autumn.

This flower child will miss petunias’ glorious, subtle fragrance. Hummingbirds and butterflies mooching off zinnias and cosmos. Hubby won’t miss mowing grass, but if the scent could be bottled, I’d buy 10.

If frost must clear out my flowers, fall’s show-off foliage more than makes up for the loss. Especially as I’ll be done with endless watering, weeding and feeding my gardens.

Instead, I’ll be raking, right? Seasonal trade-off.

And I gladly give up a hog farm’s stench on a 95-degree afternoon for fall’s clean crispness.

During summer, we don’t mess with coats or matching gloves. Also, we don’t lose them in three different places. During autumn, though, my old friend, last year’s parka, welcomes me warmly on chilly days.

Foodwise, I already miss sweet corn. I also miss potato salad, made with my mother’s recipe. She kept her signature dish in the same summer-only category as white shoes. I’ll probably do likewise.

During summer, I buy six kinds of fruit. To continue that during cold-weather months, however, requires a second mortgage. Weekly.

Still, who can reject fall’s trade-off? Apple crisp and caramel apples, or pumpkin pie and other yummy pumpkin spice foods? Plus, comfort food abounds.

Other seasonal trade-offs:

  • I’ll miss: nightly cicada concerts and fireflies’ light shows. Welcome: mosquitoes’ demise.
  • I’ll miss: sitting on restaurant patios. Welcome: sitting beside fireplaces.
  • I’ll miss: barbecue fragrances pervading my neighborhood. Welcome: woodsmoke that says, “I’m keeping someone warm.”
  • I’ll miss: our ceiling fan’s breezes at night. Welcome: quilts and flannel jammies.
  • I’ll miss: flip-flop freedom. Welcome: favorite boots.

I will happily exchange:

  • Flab-revealing tops for flannel shirts.
  • Fruit processing at 10:30 p.m. versus consuming it in a cobbler at 10:30 p.m.
  • Multiple daily baths to dispel sweat, bug spray and sunblock for single baths whose effects last more than an hour.

Unfortunately, we’ll trade air-conditioning costs for heating bills.

Still, doesn’t the seasonal trade-off seem fair?

Although good-for-us virtues, like those healthy cookies, lurk during both seasons, summer and fall taste good.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What seasonal exchanges will you make?

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?