Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Achoo! (Part Deux)

Heating an 80-year-old house during the Kansas winter is complicated by the fact that we're also heating for a wide range of life stages.

We have the Boys, at least two of whom take great pride in wearing shorts from February through December.

We have the mother-in-law, whose BMI hovers around 10 and who parks the needle at the top of the thermostat, then mourns that it only goes to 85.

Then we have me, who can ricochet between these extremes at the drop of a hat.

The solution to this heating dilemma? Rice bags.

For the poor souls who haven't experienced the bliss that is a rice bag, these are the modern, non-leaking equivalent of a hot water bottle. A sturdy inner bag is half-filled with rice, then covered with a soft flannel outer sleeve. Throw it in the microwave for a few minutes, and voila! It's the perfect antidote to winter.

A heated rice bag can be slipped between cold sheets for pre-warming a bed, or wrapped around a shoulder aching from too much snow shoveling. It wraps around a face aching from sinus pressure and instantly warms cold hands.

I keep a basket of rice bags in the living room and offer them to visitors.

"I know we keep the house cold," I say, "so please help yourself to a rice bag and stay warm."

A few days ago we had friends over and I made the usual offer. "Just throw one in the microwave for three minutes or so, and it will keep you warm."

"You know," my friend said, "I have a cat who can do the same thing."

The difference is, of course, that it's a lot harder to get the cat to stay in the microwave.

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