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LIZ DREIER | Scenes from the cold war

Some people suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. For me, it’s the beginning of that combative reign of terror known in our family as THAW — Thermostat Heat Activating Wars.
Liz Dreier Column 08312020
Liz Dreier

It’s that time of year I dread the most, when the weather turns cold and we are forced to spend more time inside.  

Some people suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. For me, it’s the beginning of that combative reign of terror known in our family as THAW — Thermostat Heat Activating Wars.

Around the first of November, when the air turns frosty and people have to scrape windshields, our house becomes a veritable ice-box. Being West Virginia born and bred, I’m used to mild winters. At the first sign of cold, namely being able to see my breath when I’m in the shower, I turn up the heat to 70 degrees. 

I am all about the temperate zone.

By contrast, my husband was born in Northwest Ohio where he cut his teeth on icicles formed by the winds off of Lake Erie. When he was 6, his parents moved the family to Alaska, an adventure that lasted nine years. There are rumors he hung out with polar bears. At 15, he and his family moved to Nebraska where, just like Oklahoma, the winds come sweeping down the plains, and the snowdrifts are so high that people have to shovel their way out the front door. 

This is a guy who thrives on cold weather.  

“I’m going to set the thermostat at a nice, comfortable 65 degrees,” he says.

I’m walking around the house in three layers of clothing, wearing gloves and a hat, wrapped in a blanket, warming my hands on a cup of hot tea.

“C-can w-we j-just k-kick it up a notch or t-two,” I say between shivers.

“Oh, man, it’s hot in here,” he says, stripping down to his tee-shirt.

Before I retired, I could look forward to a nice, warm car ride on my way to a nice, warm school building.  Now that I’m home, I have to use guerilla tactics to stay comfortable. As soon as Mr. Energy Efficiency leaves for work, I turn up the heat. The first time I tried this maneuver, the house got so hot, I had to open all the downstairs windows to let in some arctic air.  I got busted anyway.

“What’s this?” said Nanook, looking at me accusingly when he came home that night. “75?”

“That’s some great insulation we have there, huh?” 

I pray for company to come during the holidays so we can at least be comfortable.

“We can’t let that grandson of ours catch cold, now can we?” he says turning the temperature up to 69.

I’m thinking, “We can’t let Mimi be cold either, because she’s the one who cooks your meals for you!” But I remain silent.  My frozen synapses are formulating a plan. I pull out my recipe files.

“Making pie for dessert again?” asks my happy husband. I smile.

These days, you’ll find me in the kitchen baking up a storm.  It’s amazing how toasty a house can get when the oven is on all day.