Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bone Chilling Cold

This Polar Vortex thing has me thinking about other years when the temperatures dropped way below zero Fahrenheit for days on end. I am actually old enough to remember a few of those years, but two that stand out are 1982 and 1983 when the temps slipped to -20 or worse *for three weeks or more right over Christmas and New Year's. It was brutal.
*

Back then, I was still in my twenties with two small children. (We were homeschooling so I have no idea what happened with school attendance. Since most of it was over the Christmas vacation anyway, it must have worked out.) We lived in the "big" house. It was a bugger to heat. We didn't use oil as we could not afford it. Each year we ordered 10 cords of dry wood and heated our home that way with two woodstoves just a cranking.

Christmas Day 1982 1983 (should have known because son was not yet in school in '82), we were scheduled to host a family breakfast to include my parents and grandparents. My mother informed me that if the house was not warm enough, my grandparents would suffer terribly. They kept their home so toasty that we joked that steak could be fried on their kitchen table.
*
 
Passing on this information to the man of the house, I lit candles, closed doors, and stuffed blankets while he got the stoves roaring hot. It looked cozy enough as candlelight always does. In truth, the drafts could be felt around the floors and from every window and door.
*

When the car drove up the drive breaking ice with every rotation of the wheels, we were ready. And still poor grandparents suffered. They managed to make it through breakfast and the children's opening of gifts, but were out of there as soon as politeness allowed.
*
 
We sure served a lot of hot coffee that morning.
*

Before long, the news reports included all who had died as a result of the bitter cold. I remember that there was a lot of intercessory prayer that the cold snap would end for the sake of the elderly and the children.
*
 
It did. We carried on blissfully happy that the usual winter temps were once again the norm. I have never forgotten the relief that I felt. Course we did it all over again the following year.
*

 
Manuela says that she reads The Long Winter every year. This might not be the best year to read this one. I'm thinking Hawaii might be good. (By the way, look how Manuela is keeping her wreath warm.)
*


I think it is good for all of us to remember a hard winter to prepare ourselves against them by keeping the pantry full, having extra water in the house, extra fuel for both the furnace and the car. It's important to know how the neighbors are faring, to provide cozy places for our pets to hang out. I keep a blanket fluffed enough for Fioré to climb in and I find her under there quite often. I also have throws and cozy fleece everywhere. I find my grands under there, too.
*

Those ten cords of wood were not enough to "spring out on." We wound up having to buy green wood...very inefficient for heating. I remember taking "my students" to sit in a warm car to eat our lunches because the house was so cool. Warmth. We need it!

I'm glad that those winters are gone. I'll be glad when this cold snap breaks, too. I hear that it'll be 40F this weekend with rain. (A mess of another sort.)

post signature
*the facts do not bear this out—9 days

*What's with the asterisks? Blogger is being a bugger again this morning and smooshing all my paragraphs together. So in my craftiness, I've figured a way to show the break.* 

45 comments:

  1. Yep, agree. I remember some 20+ yrs ago when we lived in Hudson, NY, remember the cold, remember the 3 ft snow..this is nothing..remembering the drafty house etc. Been there, done that. Thanks for memory lane. Have a blessed and stay warm day. Smiles

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  2. Childhood winters in GA were not nearly so severe, but I do remember it being cold enough for the windows to freeze and being without water and heat. Currently, we are in a total electric home and have purchased a kerosene heater for emergencies. Like you, I have a collection of soft, warm blankets for our pets too.

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  3. Gosh, I thought those asterisks were supposed to represent snowflakes, LOL! Bad blogger! I remember several brutal winters, and this one isn't nearly as bad as some that I have endured. I remember one winter in Kansas back in the early 70s, when I lived in a rented mobile home. It got down to 40 below and we had snow about 2 feet deep. I missed only one day of college classes. And I remember a bad winter in D.C. in the late 70s. I lived in a tiny apartment then, and didn't own a shovel (no $s for extras back then). So I had to use a plastic bucket to get all the snow off my car before I could drive it.

    Our cold snap should be gone by later on this afternoon. It's supposed to get up to a balmy 43 degrees later today, and they say we should see 60 degree temperatures by the weekend. Winter in TN is very fickle!

    Hope you continue to stay warm and stay safe.

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  4. It does seem like we want to read 'cold weather' books and watch movies with wintry weather. We just watched The Last Holiday and I'm reading 'Snow Child'. The cold dipped into the South and we had a frost warning last night so we covered our pretty poinsettia. It did not get to freezing here though so we are relieved for the citrus growers. I'm praying for all those who are suffering and hope the weather improves soon. Take care and keep the tea kettle humming! Sweet hugs from a 'cool' Florida! Hugs!

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  5. I honestly just even really imagine how cold "bone chilling cold" is living where I do. It does sound REALLY hard, and I hope the cold spell there is over soon! We continue to have almost perfect weather, though I have heard a storm is moving in on Thursday...praise God, how we need the water. Enjoy your day Vee....keep warm!

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  6. I remember those years, too, Vee. They were horrible. Did you ever read about the Childrens' Blizzard of 1888? It is a fascinating read and so sad. Many children died when the cold came upon them so suddenly complicated by blizzard conditions. They tied kids together to try to keep them warm and get them home.

    I am tired of this cold and we sit in relative comfort. I grew up with a wood heated home so I know all about all the "cold spots" that the wood fire cannot touch.

    Have a warm, good day- xo Diana

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    1. No, I have not heard of that, but I'm off to look it up. Have you ever heard of the summer that never was? It is good to remember that "strange" weather has always existed.

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  7. During those two winters you mentioned, we were living in the jungle. But our parents wrote us about the huge snowfalls and cold temperatures. I'm sure those 9 days felt like 3 weeks.
    The coldest day I can remember was in 1978 or very early 1979. Tim and I were driving back from northern BC to our college in Saskatchewan. When we left Tim's parents' house in Prince George, the radio announcer said it was 55 below zero (Fahrenheit). It took forever for the tires to round out and stop clunking. And how foolish were we to drive mountain passes in that weather? Thank God for protecting the unwise.
    I like reading The Long Winter every year, too. The strength of the human spirit is amazing. And I always feel a pang of disappointment when the first train comes through and there's no food on it.

    I hope you aren't too cold today. Warmer weather is on the way!

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    1. Oh I remember the Flinstone tires thing in bitterly cold weather. They seem to do better these days. God was good to see you safely through.

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  8. It was bone chilling cold yesterday! Yep I read it yesterday when it was 6 degrees (it's a quick read). Kids were supposed to go back to school yesterday and school was cancelled because it's too cold for the kids to wait at the bus stop (and probably because they couldn't count on the buses starting up in this cold). Warmer and wet the rest of the week.

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  9. I remember those years in Ohio, Vee. We had two wood burning stoves in our home, also, and hubby cut and stacked the cords of wood. I love those memories! Now, here in Texas, I have a gas burning fireplace. It's just not the same as those wood burning stoves, but not necessary either. Keep warm, my friend! I'm off to make more soup. xo

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  10. We're back to the type of winter I grew up with only the body is much older now and doesn't like the cold. We have damp winters here too, yet north where our one daughter lives, the air is much drier and the cold doesn't go right through to the bones.
    You know how the older you get, the faster times goes? - well it doesn't work for winter. The older I get, the longer winter drags out.
    Judith

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  11. I've been thinking of y'all in the Vortex and sending warm thoughts your way. The closest we personally had to a winter that sort of maybe resembled one of your bad ones was in the 90's in Washington. We were snowed in and the power was out for 4 days. Lots of lanterns, candles, blankets, monopoly. Growing up and living in Southern California until 1988 we hardly ever experienced real cold...
    When my mother in law lived with us she was always cold...poor thing.

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  12. You clever girl with your asterisks. Brrr, it is sure cold in a lot of the country (not here in California), and also when you were homeschooling with wood stoves for heat. Happy 2014 to you and to all.

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  13. Hi Vee!

    My thoughts have been with all my friends in the mid-west and on the east coast - it is so very bone chilling in your neck of the woods! I loved hearing about your 1982-83 cold snap, and Christmas breakfast with your family...such good memories for you! I remember so well putting blankets over the front door and rolling up towels and putting them across the bottom to keep out the cold! If I remember correctly, we had a very snowy and cold year in Idaho as well that year too.... brrrr!

    We are finally getting some much needed snow - only and few inches, but we are so dry here! It's been really cold, temps only in the 20's, which is common for January. Last night on the news, they reported that the homeless shelters were filled to the brim - so many folks around the country who are struggling...we must keep them in our prayers.

    Warm thoughts are with you, and I hope you enjoy your warm up this week-end!

    Hugs,
    Barb

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  14. I can't imagine anything lower than 40* ... We live in South Texas and the lows tonight are 43 .. we have the fireplace going and I brought my patio plants in. I can't wait for this weekend when temps go back up into the mid 70 and 80s..I feel for you all.
    Stay warm my friend.

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  15. We have been caught in the polar vortex! Lol. We are also looking forward to 40 degrees this weekend, a few months ago 40 would have been cold. I grew up in a wood heated home, it's pretty toasty as long as you stand right next to the cookstove. Otherwise, not. We keep a full freezer and a well stocked pantry at all times, we don't have to go anywhere til it warms up:>)

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  16. I am remembering colder times from days gone by too. I am so ready for spring.

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  17. I am ever so thankful that I didn't live in a snowy location until after double pane windows, central heat, nylon faced down jackets, all wheel drive, chemical hand and feet packs etc etc were invented. Reading accounts of life in New England in the 1600s, and life in Kansas, Wisconsin and IL in the 1800 and even 1940's boot camp in Idaho winters makes me wonder HOW DID THEY SURVIVE???
    Especially stories of families who piled hale bales around their small houses, and sewed everyone into long johns for the winter and they had 13 kids in there with them....agggghhhh! The Little House family may have been entertained with peeled parsnips and fiddle playing; Wilder kindly pulled a curtain over the parts where the family was not so pleasantly amused during cabin bound winter days.

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  18. PS: I have a blanket or throw on every couch and chair in the house. They look so cozy but refolding them all every day as we move around is driving me nuts...ready to say just wear a darned powder suit all the time already!

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  19. We have had some really cold days here the past three mornings. 8 one day 12 the next and 11 this morning...these Southern bones can't take it lol...we were in England in 82 and 83 and white Christmases were the norm. when we were transferred back in Dec of 84 we had a heat wave and while I basked in it, the boys were less than thrilled! Loved the story about your folks! Hugs

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  20. Reminds me of my eight years in North Dakota.

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  21. Vee, listening to you talk about the "old days" heating with wood makes me want to go back to visit for just a day or two...a sweeter time, although harder in some ways...only because we have all gotten used to "convenience". I am from Ohio and I hardly remember a winter when I was little that we didn't have snow on the ground and the lake froze over...and we were able to ice skate for a good spell during those months. We played Fox and Geese in the field beside our house and couldn't wait to get back in and warm up next to the old free-standing coal furnace....sweet memories to be sure! I also just love how all of the scientific minds create new names for things...never, ever heard of the Polar Vortex until just this year...we called it "a bad winter"! :) I still have not gotten my snow in NC...holding out hope!

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  22. Loved your post! I was around for some of those times and had forgotten it. I, too, read The Long Winter each year. I love the goosebumps it still gives me!

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  23. IT does seem like this winter is a bit more like the old days. Depending where you live I suppose. I actually have enjoyed this very cold weather, and part of that is that I know it won't last It wasn't so great, though, for the ones around who lost power, which meant their heat.

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  24. If we have a cold winter this year I prepared I have all the left over wood from the house next
    door.
    Merle................

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  25. This winter is extremely harsh. And still in the beginning.......I may get out by Friday, definitely on the weekend. stay warm! xo

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  26. We also lived in a big old un-insulated house!
    One winter we burned 16 cords of wood.
    I love hearing the stories of your past winters, Vee.
    It makes me realise and appreciate what we have now.
    We, also read "The Long Winter" and "Farmer Boy' every Winter.

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  27. I remember really cold winters too, though our home was always warm enough. But if we lose heat in the house, Andy reminded me that the stove in the garage can be heated with wood or coal which he has in plenty for his boiler, and it make the room almost too warm! I do hope the rest of this winter will not be setting any more records!

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  28. Good post , brings back memories for me to living on a farm . I know all to well of being cold and doing all one can do to stay warm, lots of cords of fire wood was burnt in the fireplace back then and hot water bottles used and lots of blankets and layered cloths , home made soups and lots of tea and hot chocolate. . The winters back in the 70s and early 80s were brutal here in Ontario Canada much like the temps we have had the past few days wind chills of -40F unreal and back then more snow then we get now , then we would be stranded and be digging ourselves out of the farm house as the drifts were blocking the door ! Thanks for sharing . Is it Spring yet ? lol ! Have a good day !

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  29. Wow that must have really been a long winter. Our 13 below zero here yesterday was the coldest weather I've ever been in and I'm glad it just lasted 2 days. The warm up has started here and at 18 it didn't even feel cold. : )

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  30. I remember waiting for the school bus (high school) and nearly freezing to death at the bus stop. My toes seemed to suffer the most. I grew up in a large home that had a furnace, but that was backup heat, we had two woodstoves. The only heat to the upstairs was through floor registers. It was mighty cold some mornings getting up. I could see my breath. Ah, the memories. Thanks for sharing yours. ~ Abby

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  31. I grew up in Michigan and I remember it being very cold and snowy every winter. We did heat with oil, but it seems at least once a winter, our oil would run out in the middle of the night and my parents would wake us up and bring us down to the living room, where we slept in sleeping bags on the floor in front of the roaring wood fireplace.

    Here in NC we broke a record yesterday with a low of -1 degree.

    Stay warm Vee!

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  32. I enjoyed reading your post and all the comments as I sit in my easy chair with a fleece hoodie, and a nice wool throw across my lap shivering against the cold. My fingers are so cold as are my lambs wool lined feet. The electric heat is on but doesn't seem to throw much my way at all. I have candles burning on the table to represent a fire. Ha! I sure wish we had a nice wood stove or even a gas fireplace in this living room. Wood heat is so nice and the older I get the more I wish we had it. I don't recall any stories of those cold days you mentioned back then. I think we had a wood stove in the basement at that time so I was probably warm. I have never read "The Long Winter". I guess I can imagine living in one of the old houses at Kings Landing during this cold snap then I'd really appreciate the cozy house we have - all insulated with triple paned windows and insulated steal doors and electric heat and lights, cozy throws and candles to mimic a fire and a laptop to keep my lap warm. Hehehe. I'm not really suffering at all!! But I'm looking forward to the 'heatwave' this weekend (just not the rain). Take care and stay warm.

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  33. Sitting here wrapped in a blanket reading your post with the wood stove blazing. I remember Christmas of 1982 and it being 60 degrees in Northeast Illinois, it felt like a spring day, much different than what if feels like outside now ;)

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    1. I may have the years reversed. 1982 was very cold in January and Christmas 1983 was the coldest on record. My memory! Still checking.

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  34. Oh, I am glad that those winters are gone too! We had just bought the farmhouse, and it was not very well insulated (hardly insulated at all!). The doors and windows rattled, and the curtains moved, with every passing wind. We, too, were heating with wood and our supply, like yours, did not make it until spring. Over the years, Ron made lots of repairs and improvements and now I love my house, but I can't say that I loved it then.

    Of all the Little House books, The Long Winter is my least favorite. It is depressing to read.

    I write this as I cozy up to my wood stove with a cup of Lady Gray. Thankful.

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  35. Yes ma'am, I remember the Christmas of 1983 ... my eldest daughter got a plastic sled and wanted desperately to use it ... it was -25 F and WAY too cold for a little child to be outside, but we bundled her and her cousin John up and took them for a tow around the driveway and for one trip down the back hill, then back in the house fast! It was brutally cold! We totally conned them with marshmallows and cocoa!

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  36. I remember some of those cold winters when the kids were little and we lived in a drafty old farm house. Even though the weather is really cold now too, I have been quite warm in my little house. However I have had on an extra layer or two.

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  37. We are starting to warm up and will be in the 50's over the weekend. We will go from our coldest day on record to our warmest (for this time of year) in a weeks time.

    I grew up in Southern California and we never had winters like this. Our winters were pretty mild over all though it felt so cold to us!

    We are drinking lots of hot drinks here too.

    Deanna

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  38. We had our "arctic blast" here in Colorado earlier in fall, and even though it went down to minus degrees I was thankful our house stayed warm.Our coldest room is our bedroom as it is over our unheated garage. I have a small electric heater I use to warm up the room enough for me to them get under two comforters --then I turn it off. Man has no control over weather -- it does what it will, and it sure is best to be prepared as much as possible.

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  39. O, I do have a cold weather story....fodder for another post....:)
    It was 50 degrees, sun shining, and, in general, a beautiful Jan. day here yesterday.....the "girls" (not a one of us under 70) and I played Bunco, laughed a lot and ate even more. A wonderful day that I am so thankful for.

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  40. As I was reading, I was thinking how very clever you were to use asterisks. After reading that you had solved a problem with blogger, I'm convinced you're both clever and creative.

    As I took Shiraz to the vet clinic yesterday morning, it was -27 degrees. It's been like that for weeks and as long as the wind isn't blowing, it no longer seems so cold. I believe that I've acclimated to ND winters.

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  41. I love when the bitter cold is blamed on a Polar Vortex...rather than on Canada! :) You are a survivor...so I know you will make it through to warmer temp's once again. Stay cozy over there!

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