Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keeping Warm + New Favorite Read

Back in December we had an energy audit. Massachusetts has a free program where someone comes out to evaluate your house's energy use and needs. Our appliances, windows and doors were pretty good, but our attic had very little insulation and some of our walls had none. It took 2 months of high gas bills for our insulating and sealing cracks appointment to get here. But that is not a bad thing, because next year we'll be able to do a good comparison of our Dec-Feb bills before and after the work. While the work was not cheap, almost half was paid by a $2000 grant from the state. The calculations of the audit estimate that we should make back our money within 5 to 7 years while putting less CO2 and other pollutants into the air. Here are some pictures of the work.

Outdoors, the workers carefully slid over the shingles, pumped in cellulose treated to resist fire and bugs, and replaced the shingles as if they had not been disturbed.

They climbed ladders in many dangerous looking places to reach high walls around the house.

They brought this tube up through the window in my son's room to reach a small attic above the dining room addition which is reached through a trapdoor in his wall. (My husband found a 1989 Paulina swimsuit calendar in there from the last teenage boy to occupy the room.) They also snaked it up into the attic above all the bedrooms.

It now feels like the house is less drafty and cozier. But time and the gas bills will tell. I'll report next year, or even next month if the savings is dramatic and the warming temperatures of spring are not. To give you an idea of our situation before this work, our September gas bill was less than $50, October was less than $100. The ones for December and January exceeded $450/month. We have gas heat, stove and hot water.

To keep busy, warm and out of the way during the 3 days of sealing and insulting work, I hid in my bedroom reading.

First this book

It was interesting. I am an older sister by 14 months. My sister who lives in Florida and I talk rarely and do not get along very well. It was most interesting to read one part, a metaphor about younger sisters always watching ahead at an older sister as if the older sister were riding in the front of the car with the younger one in back. The younger sister's view is of the older daughter's head blocking the road. The older sister's view is only of the road, she rarely looks back. I found this so illuminating. It seemed a plausible representation of our formative years. There have been many episodes as adults that have led us to the place we are. However, it made me feel a bit guilty that when I was in my later years of high school (2 years ahead of her), I was so focused on school activities, my friends, boyfriend, getting into college, and getting away from what I saw as an unhappy home (my parents had recently divorced). I don't really remember having much interaction with her at the time.

Then this one
Wonderful, a quick and satifying read. Charming characters , discussions of book love, blossoming romantic love, courage, sadness, and cleverness.

At one point one character picks up a paperweight etched with the words Carpe Diem.The following exchange takes place:

" 'Seize the Day', she said. 'That's an inspiring thought, isn't it, Isola? ''I suppose so,' I said, 'if you like being goaded by a bit of rock.' "

Here's another passage of the character Juliet considering marriage:

"I kept trying to explain and he kept shouting until I began to cry from frustration.Then he felt remorseful, which was so unlike him and endearing that I almost changed my mind and said yes. But then I imagined a lifetime of having to cry to get him to be kind and went back to no again."

And a description of why she did not marry another suitor. I have amended this to give a flavor without it being too long. I hope it is charming enough without giving away too much.

"On the afternoon before our wedding, Rob was moving in the last of his clothes and belongings... I tore home to find Rob sitting on a low stool in front of my bookcase, surrounded by cartons... There were eight boxes--eight boxes of my booksbound up and ready for the basement...
"I was too appalled to speak. Every single shelf--where my books had stood--was filled with athletic trophies: silver cups, gold cups, blue rosettes, red ribbons. There were awards for every game that could possibly be played with a wooden object: cricket bats, squash racquets, tennis racquets, oars, golf clubs, Ping-Pong paddles, bows and arrows, snooker cues, lacrosse sticks, hockey sticks, and polo mallets. There were statues for everything a man could jump over, either by himself or on a horse. Next came the framed certificates--for shooting the most birds on such and such a date, for First Place in footraces, for Last Man Standing in some filthy tug-of-war against Scotland."...
...(argument excluded)
"He huffed and puffed and snorted--and left. And I unpacked my books."

This is a wonderful read. Check it out.


Meryl said...

"Guernsey" is one of my all time favorite books. Doesn't it just make you miss the days of writing letters?

Andrea said...

Such a clever way to write the book. I loved it too. So funny and sad at the same time. Such great characters. I must say I'm rather impatient even for comments on my blog (thanks for yours). I guess I would have practiced having more patience in the days of letters. Have you read McCoulough's "John Adams". It was terrific. He spent so much time away from his family and the letters between he and Abagail are amazing.

perches said...

Thanks for recommending "Guernsey" - I'll look it up at my library :)

rosalyn said...

Enjoy a wonderful year.