Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Drafted into the Cold War

Well, there I was, sitting in my easy chair, reading the adventures of Captain Hornblower of His Royal Majesty’s Britannic Navy, feeling warm and content as I listened to the winter storm pile up the snow outside. My cat, Paws for Thought, was curled on a blanket on my lap, purring contentedly, and I had a mug of hot chocolate steaming on the table beside me. It doesn’t get any better than this, I thought, settling myself even further into the cushions. Then I asked myself that most dangerous of all questions: what could possibly spoil this perfect Saturday afternoon?
The answer, as it turned out, was blowing in the wind, or, more accurately, carried on the draft. The wind outside howled, and from somewhere, the house made an answering sigh, a sigh that wafted its chilly breath across my arm.
I had been drafted.
I waited. Maybe I had been mistaken. But no, there it was again: a tiny breath of frozen air infiltrating from the frozen heart of another Canadian winter.
The moment was spoiled. The cold gust of air was like money burning in the grate, and there was no way I would be able to settle down to join Captain Hornblower in his noble struggle against Bonaparte until I had located and plugged the leak.
A draft in a house is like a hole in the roof. Sometimes it IS a hole in the roof. With the temperature outside hovering at somewhere around cold enough to freeze the tires off your car, I was not about to let my hard-earned heating dollar be wafted out a crack in my walls. As my father used to say: “I am not paying to keep the sparrows warm!” Which was usually followed by the observation that contrary to what his family apparently thought, he was not made of money either.
Anyway, I cast off my blanket, put Paws for Thought on the couch, Hornblower next to the hot chocolate, and proceeded in good, Canadian fashion, to spend my Saturday in search of a daft.
I started by performing the familiar Frozen Homeowner Waltz: I removed my sweater and shirt, and stood in the middle of the living room in my undershirt, my bare arms stretched out on either side of my body to help me detect the errant breeze as I turned slowly in a complete circle. Nope, the daft was not here. A couple of quick hops, and I was back in my chair again, trying to recreate the moment when the draft and I had first encountered each other, my arms moving slowly around me like sensitive antennae, each hair alert for any sign of cold. The wind howled, and sure enough, there it was again: that soft, unmistakable, feathery feeling of a small but chilly zephyr travelling through the room.
I leapt from the chair and fell to my hands and knees. Drafts are know to try to sneak through a house by keeping close to the hardwood floors. Only by moving slowly along on all fours, close to the floor, can a draft sleuth hope to track these heat robbers to their lair. Keeping my skin finely attuned to the sensation of winter’s freezing finger probing my house, I started to trace the intruder to the source to plug up the breech in my home defenses. Hornblower himself could not have paid greater attention to detail as he tried to ferret out Napoleon and his minions.
By careful, slow movements, I tracked the puffs of cold to the back hallway, but lost them by the basement door. Now here was a conundrum. The laws of homeowner physics dictate that cold air slips into the basement, especially in the summer when the air conditioner is on and you really need the cold air upstairs. But this time there was no trace of cold air under the tightly sealed door.
I brought out the heavy artillery: I lit a cigar. Lying on my stomach on the linoleum in the back hall in my T-shirt, smoking, trying to track the origin of the draft from the direction of the smoke, I thought that I must have looked odd indeed to all but other Canadians. If one of my neighbours were to have walked in through the back door at that moment, they would have taken one look at me, and then gotten down on the floor next to me, squinting at the smoke to see which way it was blowing.
Well, about half a cigar later, I found the leak: loose mortar around a couple of bricks under the back door step, easily repaired with a little injectable, expandable insulation foam.
I returned to my chair, to my lukewarm hot chocolate and my Hornblower. Most of the afternoon was gone, but I was pleased to have scored a small victory in the never-ending Canadian Cold War.
Who Links Here Free Website Counter
Free Web Counter