A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Greenhouse

This is my kitchen thermostat, hiked up to a whopping 62 degrees, which is as high as I put it during the day in the winter (at night, it goes down to 52). The front part of the house stays at 52 degrees all the time unless I'm entertaining. The loft and the third floor have their own zones, but I never turn on the heat....they just get whatever rises from down below. My heating bills are pretty reasonable as a result, considering how big my house is and how cold it gets in New England.

We residents of the Emory House follow the British precept of warming ourselves, not the whole house. That means lots of clothes, lots of comforters on the bed (with a dog under the covers like a living, breathing hot water bottle), and space heaters strategically placed under desks. Every year we get a little tougher.

One nice feature of this house is the monstrous stained glass window (fourteen feet square) on the south-facing wall of the kitchen. On a sunny day, it functions like a greenhouse. Today, although it's freezing outside and the heaters are cold, the temperature reads 80. A lot of that heat rises up to my loft where I write.

The Emory House was moved in the 1970s from a nearby street. It used to face north, with a two-story porch facing east. The last owner had the fortuitous idea of enclosing the porch and adding skylights, fans, and this fabulous salvaged Victorian-era window. Now the house faces east (good feng shui) and the sun pours in the kitchen window all day long.