Thursday, November 26, 2009

And this year we are thankful for....propane.

I know, it isn't exactly politically correct to be thankful for fossil fuels, but I have good reason.

I'm also thankful for the regular things too, of course my family, our jobs, our good health, and our home. We're lucky, and I"m grateful for it.  The kids even managed to sit at the Thanksgiving table for  oh, at least 6 minutes, none of which I was actually sitting down, mind you, and they even tasted a few mouthfuls of the sweet potato casserole and the fennel and orange baked halibut (no turkey for us, I"m a pescatarian) in between blowing bubbles in their chocolate milk and complaining that they wanted their ice cream. They at least enjoyed the spiced apple cake that we miraculously manged to create despite a) the recipe, Gorden Ramsey's, being in metric weights and my only having American cups at hand, (thank you google converter), b) the kids adding the baking powder without my supervision c) not having the right shaped cake tin, and d) baking it at 7000ft.

That takes me back to the propane. We are celebrating our Thanksgiving at our cabin in Tahoe. Geekydaddy and I bought this millstone vacation home the year we married, gazing starry eyed into a future of gamboling dogs and giggling children growing up together in this mountain hideaway. This was back when buying real estate in California seemed like a good idea. We love the house, we bought it to use, not as an investment, but lets just say it is a good job that we don't need to sell it any time soon!  I"m thankful for that, too. And since I'm feeling sentimental, I'm also grateful for the vast beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I was knocked down by the sheer scale of the scenery when I first moved to California, and never tire of the peaks, crags and views.

The house we bought was perfect for a couple and a dog. It had a small galley kitchen, a big living room for parties, and was heated by two wood burning stoves.

This meant that upon arrival, usually around midnight on Friday night the house was at the same temperature as the outside; usually below freezing. We would put on hats and double layers of clothing, light the two fires using cold logs hauled up from the basement, then knock back a couple of Scotches and retire to bed fully clothed under two down comforters. Usually the place would be warmish by morning, but on the coldest weekends the house would reach a habitable temperature by about Sunday, just in time for us to leave. This was no hardship for two hardy skiers. Central heat, who needs it, we crowed.

Once Geekygirl arrived I managed the frigid arrival routine by snuggling her with me in bed, but once her brother joined us it became impossible for me to keep them both warm while Geekydaddy struggled with the fires. On one impossible evening two winters ago I held two freezing howling children while Geekydaddy's frantic firemaking efforts caused the chimneys to billow black smoke back into the house, meaning we had to open all the windows to the blizzard outside, dissipating the meagre amount of heat we had generated. We decided that we had to get central heat put in.

Last year we remodelled the whole place, and spent our Holidays in South Africa instead.  Yes, we took an almost three year old and an almost one year old half way around the world on 27 hours worth of flights. I am very thankful not to be doing that again this year!

It was completed (well almost, but that is another story!) this summer, but this is the first winter weekend we have spent here since the revamp. The seasons change fast up here in the mountains, we were last up in October when it was a balmy 65oF, but now there is a foot or so of snow crunching underfoot and a distinct chill in the air. We arrived late on Wednesday night, pulled into our new garage (instead of having to dig our way to the door), left the kids sleeping warm in their car seats while we flipped the heating switch and waited for the house (ambient temperature about 0oC) to get warm. I ran the kids duvets through the dryer to make their beds snug-buggly, and by the time they were ready the house had already reached 5oC. They hardly stirred on transfer. We unpacked the groceries, knocked back a welcome beer, then put ourselves to bed and hour or so later, the house already quite pleasantly warm.

Central heat is an amazing thing. Thanks, propane!