Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Is it cold enough to duct tape your face?

My taped daughter and friends at Nordic States in Presque Isle, Maine 

We have a new standard for cold this year. At the Maine high school State Championship for Nordic Skiing (ie cross country classic and skate) the high temperature was minus two degrees Fahrenheit (-19C) with twenty mph winds. My daughter's coach had the team tape their faces to avoid frostbite. Some racers use duct tape, but Kinesio tape is softer on the skin. Duct tape is also useful for taping hand-warmers to your body under racing spandex. The girls came second for their division, class c. None of them got frostbite.

My daughter racing on a warmer day
The best way to beat the cold at home is a woodburning stove. Our first house in Maine had one placed at the bottom of the stairway in the open plan living space. We had a newborn (the future Nordic Ski captain) and a rambunctious three-year-old (now a Physics major), who always touched before asking. Since there was a nice fireplace in another room, we considered removing the woodstove but decided to wait a year. Half of the homes we'd seen had those clunky woodstoves. There might be a reason.

Our first January in Maine there was an epic icestorm. We lost power for a week. Many of our neighbors lost power for longer. That "dangerous" woodstove kept our small house in the 60's and the pipes from freezing. An open fireplace is far less efficient at heating a house since most of the hot air goes up the chimney. A woostove radiates heat, and the top can be used to cook tins of soup and to boil water for tea or even a bath. My professor husband became very proficient at splitting logs.

A woodstove is greener than you might think. The trees we burn, some from our yard, are replanted every year. A growing tree sucks up more CO2 than is released by burning that tree. Maine is the most densely forested state in the continental USA, and one of the least populated, so burning wood works for us. As the saying goes, a woodstove warms you three times: stacking logs, splitting logs and burning them.

Reading Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein with Scout, photo by my husband. Book review coming in March.

When we moved into our current house, the first thing we bought was a woodstove to supplement our natural gas furnace. Our Jotul keeps our library cozy on the coldest nights and has been useful during other power failures. We've never had it as bad as that first winter, but this year, with all the blizzards, record snowfall (another six to ten inches due tonight), and frigid temperatures (three degrees Fahrenheit), I feel prepared. If I need to go outside for logs, I can always tape my face!

Recommended reading: The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach (fiction)
For more novel uses for duct tape, woodstoves recipes, and other winter survival tips.


troutbirder said...

It is cold enough & though I dearly loved xcountry at minus 35 wind chill this a.m. Lily and I had to skip our hike. I stood inside the basement door, sent her out into our little woods, where instead of dawdling per usual she completed business in under two minutes. I also miss the Franklin Stove we had in our house. Your post reminded me why its best for those of us in the far north to have a backup heating plan....)

Barrie said...

I was thinking of The Remedy for Love the entire time I was reading your post! Love the photo of you reading! And thank you to your daughter for allowing us to see her taped up. Good luck with this evening's projected storm.

A Cuban In London said...

Damn, that looks cold! :-) -19? I would be complaining to the weatherperson.

Great to see you reading by the fire. Lovely photo.

Greetings from London.

Sarah Laurence said...

Troutbirder, very sensible! It must be a shock after Florida. I recommend Musher’s Secret for dog paws before going out in the snow. It protects the pads and decreases snowball paws.

Barrie, Bill Roorbach is very much a Maine author. It was sunny and just above freezing when my daughter and I started skiing this afternoon. Now it’s snowing.

ACIL, the weatherman was almost gleeful announcing the “Norlun Trough,” a weird micro-storm that is targeting only midcoast Maine.

khaki said...

Learn something new every day! Never heard of that, but then we don't really ever get that cold here either. Who knew. I can't believe how big Scout is!!!! Cute pic.

Margie said...

Looks very cold!
I have the same woodstove as yours it!
That is a great shot!

Cynthia Pittmann said...

Argh! My comment escaped before I could finish writing! Ah well...I love your wood burning stove and the security it offers! Great photo - you look so comfortable I almost want to ditch the sun in Puerto Rico and move north. I said almost!!

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Sarah,

Well, given a choice, we know where we should rather be. Would we be found on the ski slopes with or without duct tape......definitely not. Are we to be found snuggled in an armchair, heated by the fire and engrossed in a good book........most definitely!

Your weather really has encouraged hibernation this year. And, how wonderful to have such comfortable surroundings in which to wait for Spring!

tina said...

It's been cold indeed. Wood stoves are awesome. I kind of wish I had one but alas, we only have a natural gas fireplace for heat in case the power goes out and our geothermal won't work. Lots of folks down here do have wood stoves tho. And there is never any regret cutting down trees for wood. Here a rick sells for about $45-very cheap and we have lots of woods everywhere. Most folks cut fallen timber for firewood before they cut the standing timber. Lots of trees in the forest go down more frequently than people realize.

Duct tape on the face-great idea! Your daughter looks a lot like you and what fun to ski on a team!

Amanda Summer said...

Congrats to your daughter and her team - duct tape and all! (That sounds SO painful - glad they use sports tape which comes off much easier.) Your living room looks so cozy - the perfect place to curl up with a good read.

Les said...

My parents added a Franklin stove to the 60's ranch I grew up in. It was a little complicated to add a brick hearth and run stovepipe through a house that was never supposed to have such things. When we lit a fire, the heat would nearly run you out of the house. Congratulations to your daughter!

Anonymous said...

Love this blog entry. Keep 'em coming!

Rose said...

You've introduced me to a new use for duct tape:) Congratulations to your daughter's ski team! The story of your wood stove reminds me of growing up--my parents had an old oil heating stove for years. It kept us warm, too, through power failures and often served as Mom's clothes "dryer" as well as sort of cook stove in emergency situations. Great photo of you and Scout by the fire!

Sarah Laurence said...

Kacky, yes, Scout is all grown up but still acts like a puppy. She loves the snow and warming up by the fire.

Margie, yeah for woodstoves!

Cynthia, I hate when that happens. Thanks for trying again. Sometimes I compose comments in word and paste them into the comment box. Anytime you want to house swap in winter…

Jane & Lance, rightly so.

Tina, your alternatives are green too. You can tell me apart from my daughter by my lack of rainbow spandex! Her cool down pace is my sprint on skis, but we enjoy skiing backcountry together.

Amanda, Les and Rose, thanks! She was very pleased with the results.

Les and Rose, I enjoyed your family woodstove stories. In old England houses, there are drying racks on pullies that you hoist up to dry clothes above the Aga cookstove.

Leah, a nice surprise to find you here!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I recall living in the cold of Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan and Connecticut. I don't know, though, after 27 years in the south if I garner the guts needed to live once again in the cold. Layers of clothing and a warm fireplace sound quite inviting, however. Very peaceful.

Booksnyc said...

wow - -2 with 20 MPH winds? It has been brutal in NY for the past few days but this puts it into perspective. I guess it is not THAT cold!

We had a woodburning stove in our house growing up and it would put out so much heat. I wasn't a fan, however, of keeping the wood supply stocked for it!

Liviania said...

I'm not sure I could live in Maine! I like living somewhere nice and warm most of the year. (It's in the seventies right now!)

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello greetings and good wishes.

Skiing is an amazing sport.

Taping is an excellent idea to beat the cold.

I now know that the good old wood stove is more reliable than gas furnace.

Lovely photos. Your daughter and her friends are pretty and very happy.

Best wishes

cynthia newberry martin said...

Love that cozy photo of you, Sarah!

Sarah Laurence said...

MR, you’ve done your time.

Booksnyc, my daughter informed me later that they were also racing at night under floodlights because everything got shifted due to the weather. Yes, woodstoves are a lot of work. We order our kiln dried wood split but my husband has to split the logs in our yard when a tree dies.

Liviania, seventies does sound tempting!

Joseph and Cynthia, thanks!

Donna said...

I love your library! And that red leather armchair!

Sarah Laurence said...

Donna, I grew up in a house with built in bookcases and a leather armchair, and I've waited years to recreate that look in our house. It was part of my husband's 50th birthday present.