Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

All through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for me and my silly old four o’clock worries. It has been cold. How cold is it? It is so cold that the furnace cannot reach what I set the thermostat up to. Yesterday, I tried turning the temperature up to 73 °F, but it maxed out at 72 °F and would not go higher. Last night, I jacked up the thermostat to 70 °F. It normally, automatically goes down to 62 °F, but since Dan is visiting, I figure that the extra heat would be appreciated upstairs where he sleeps. Except, he did not come home last night and ended up couch surfing at a friend’s house. Anyway, all through the night, the furnace would run for about half-an-hour, before kicking off for five minutes and then the cycle would repeat. Two of these cycles passed and then it was five.

We have a relatively new 95% efficient furnace. Its high efficiency precluded the use of the old furnace’s flue, which ran up the chimney. During installation, a hole was cut in the brick wall and a bit of PVC was run to the outside. The new vent has a plastic cover that I noticed yesterday was covered in ice and this was the root of my silly old worries. I imagined that the ice was building up to the point where this vent would be iced over. Then the exhaust would be trapped and then either the carbon-monoxide alarm would sound (like it did when the old furnace died) or not at all and, in that event, we would be found lifeless when Dan eventually came home. Merry Christmas! This morning, Anne and I shoveled the walk and while passing this vexing vent, I noticed more clearly that while the cover had a thick coat of ice, the actual vent hole was completely unobstructed. Moral of the story—don’t worry be happy. Happy Holidays!

The Friendliest Store in Town

I must report my failure in this year’s Little Drummer Boy challenge. I heard the song. It is a silly game that I subscribe to, where one strives to not hear that song in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is played on the honor system, and I won it last year. This year, I was almost out of the grocery store, one of my main danger points, when I heard it. I heard it. One of the store’s employees who regularly specializes in customer outreach demos was dressed as Mrs. Claus. She was greeting customers and had her own little boom box, and that box played the song. This game began as a hipster challenge that I have adopted, but now I am wondering about its efficacy. Trying to win steers me away from the seasonal music, which I really do love. Now, with more than a week to go, I can freely listen to all those carols.

I have been to the store twice since that encounter. Both times it has been very crowded. As it turns out our local grocery store is the busiest in the entire metropolitan area. This all comes down to location. Forty plus years ago, when we first moved to town, this store did not even exist, at least not at its current location. A much smaller member of the chain held sway and served all our grocery needs. Eventually, the current “new” store was built, and the old store torn down. It has stood there as a beacon for many years. Shining out over the food desert that is the City of Saint Louis. Being such an outpost, it serves a diverse cliental, which is only made more so, when you throw into the mix all the nearby college students.

Normally, our grocery store is up to the task of serving our community, but now, so near the crescendo of the holiday season it is struggling to cope. Yesterday, the line for checkout stretched to the back of the store. Today, the line went to the back, turned right, and headed off to the store’s far corner, or halfway around the store. I do not think that the line can get any longer, because all the shopping carts were is use at the time. People were waiting for other shoppers to give up their carts, after they had loaded their cars. It took me half-an-hour to go through that line. I did not mind though, because there was a very friendly camaraderie among the shoppers waiting in line. I am glad that it is done though.


The Holiday Season Stress Test

Neighborhood XMAS Lights

— In two miles, psychologically prepare yourself to make a left turn across four lanes of oncoming traffic.

We really enjoyed our recent road trip to Boston and other points east, but returning home, we have found out that we have missed a few things, like Christmas. Not completely and not yet, but a few of our favorite yuletide activities have already fallen off the table this year. The annual cookie party, my one remaining point of contact with the people from Boeing was canceled this year. So, I will not be making Blood Orange Poppy Seed Linzer Cookies this year, not that I have found the blood orange marmalade yet. While not attributable to the road trip, I will add it anyway, because these things always come in threes. We also missed out on meeting with our Kaldi’s bike buddies this month. We were supposed to schedule this month’s meeting, but frankly, we dropped the ball on that one and will have to make amends in the new year. Finally, Anne tried to score tickets to the Tillis Park holiday lights display, on the one night that is set aside for walking through the park and not driving, no carbon-monoxide for me thank you very much, but they were sold out. Instead, after we put up our own lights this week, we walked around the neighborhood after dark, to checkout other people’s light displays. Pictured is the brightest one that we could find. It was also in the running for the kitschiest display too, but another house that featured an inflatable Santa using an outhouse, with the door wide open, beat it out in that category. Every day now, we work to put more cheer in this holiday season, but I fear that this year, we are firmly stuck behind the eight ball, behind schedule and running out of time. We will keep plugging along though. After all, there are twelve days to Christmas, and we do not always have to hit the very first one. Maybe not getting out of the house until noon, taking a coffee break at three and then knocking off for the day is part of the problem? I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that one.