Nice gentle rain today, pattering; but no rain for me on which to daydream through the two windows I face while at my computer. Eight years ago on October 3, 2005, when I moved in, even with the furnace melting me in the other rooms, my office was ice cold, immune to a space heater. My desk I had positioned in the northeast corner of a room I designated my office; a desk, really a table designed for church lunches. All around the other walls were six heavy bookcases loaded with books. While at my computer, preparing for classes or responding to emails, I froze to death.
As winter approached, I swore that water would freeze if kept in my office overnight. No laptop at that time to place on the dining room table, so I bundled myself up as if heading out to do chores with no neighbors around to care what I wore–blue sweat pants on top of which was a heavy flannel purple nightgown, a gray or brown sweat shirt on top of the nightgown, a maroon scarf around my head, black, furry gloves with fingers absent, two pairs of socks, and cranberry bedroom slippers. Still I froze. Cold air from the basement seeped into the room through the north and east walls that were leaky like barn doors, the air pulled through the room by the principle of heat exchange. And then the windows. My hand when six inches in front of a pane grew icicles. My daughter lived in Williston, some 130 miles northeast, 50 miles from the Canadian border. She moved to North Dakota a year before I with my U-Haul chugged up the Interstate from Omaha. When I first complained that no matter how I bundle up, my neck was still cold, she laughed and told me to give it a year.
After a month, I couldn’t take the cold in that room any more. I bought some insulated aluminum, normally used to wrap heat ducts, and covered the windows, using aluminum tape to seal. I made sure that the edges around the window frames were leak proof. I put some insulation on the walls under the windows to keep my feet from freezing. I covered the windows in my bedroom with the same insulated aluminum, and reasoned that I not worry about the walls, for I had blankets and a bedspread filled with down. The next summer I took the insulation off the walls in the office after a crew replaced all the basement windows.
A year after that, I replaced the living room picture window. At the same time I obtained bids for the double-hung windows in the house–$600 a window, the cheapest, something that I could not afford then, for the replacement of the picture window was over $1400 on top of the previous year’s expense of basement windows that exceeded $1600. This past year, five years after the first bid, I obtain another bid–$900 a window, or an additional $1500 from the same company who gave me the cheapest bid in 2007. Needless to say, at my salary I cannot afford to replace all five, so I decided not to do any at all. So the insulated aluminum still covers the windows in the office. I have chosen, however, a couple of years ago to take off the aluminum insulation from my bedroom windows and run a space heater during cold days and months.
By the way, so that my house still had some curb appeal, I put the insulation over the shades that had been drawn to keep out the early morning light; and in front of each shade, I hung a small rectangular stained-glass eye-catcher. I daydream about the sands of New Mexico.