Adventures in Calefaction: or, Less Orthodox Ways to Stay Warm

This October has brought far chillier weather than I expected.  You’d think that having lived in Michigan (unofficial state motto: “where both heatstroke and frostbite can get you in the same week”) for twenty-odd years would have inured me to this sort of thing, but I just wasn’t ready for this.  My room is evidently the least insulated in the house, meaning that my roommate and I are first to shiver and last to turn the thermostat down.  Despite my warm-blooded nature, I about slid into a torpor yesternight; it was 56º F in our room.

All of which means that I spent the day pondering what to do when it’s too cold to carry on with life, and thus I now provide you this handy, if unconventional, list:

1.  Hang out somewhere chillier first.  Admittedly, this limits my options to “Outside, without a jacket.”  But everyone knows that if it’s literally freezing outside, 56º will feel balmy.  Take care if you wear corrective lenses, for yea, they shall grow foggy.

2.  Wear more clothes.  Okay, too traditional for you?  Look, I really am asking you to break free of all your constraints here.  Don’t just check that you’ve got socks, shoes, and a sweater on; wear two pairs of socks (both of them fuzzy)!  Put on a hat!  Don that long underwear with PRIDE!  Combine aprons, bathrobes, and peacoats.  Type with gloves, or even mittens, like it’s 2002 and you’re StrongBad.  Wear scarves.  As many as it takes.

The important question here is not “Do I look preposterous?” No, the important question is “What should I do about the fact that none of those scarves helps my nose feel warmer without suffocating me?”

3.  Grab some tea.  Or coffee.  Or cocoa.  Hot ciderWhiskey.  Brandy.  Hot buttered rum.    …okay, that one’s kind of obvious.  Erm.  Kick it up a notch by having a standby cuppa at the ready.  Experiment with several hot beverages to see which complements your personal thermoregulation best, at least until your efforts begin to put a strain on your transitional epithelium.

4.  Eat spicy food.  Grab the Tabasco sauce and the Anaheim, the jalapeno, the habanero, the Serrano peppers.  Pump up the Scovilles until you’re more or less putting law enforcement grade pepper spray on your food.  The tears pouring down your face will be tears of gratitude for your sudden warmth.

5.  In a boldly creative move, combine 3 and 4 by making Spicy Pepper Chai!  Sure, maybe you think you prefer bergamot oil to pepper ribbing, but which will keep you warm on a long, cold, lonely night?

I made some in the name of Science, as well as the name of Frugally Using That Half-Chopped Pepper From Earlier.

6.  Find a Tauntaun, slay it, and ensconce yourself within its steaming entrails.  Er, wait…no, never mind.

7.  Light a number of small, controlled fires.  Hopefully your small, controlled fires can be more dramatic than my baker’s dozen of candles.  If not, well, the thirteen candles did make the area around my desk feel a good bit warmer.  I extinguished a few before they lit the desk itself on fire and made the house a bad bit warmer.

8.  Do some Caramelldansen!  If you are some unfortunate soul who has not heard of such a thing, learn from the Harry Potter cast, Sherlock and John, or Doctors 9, 10, and 11.  If you raise a skeptical eyebrow because you have too much dignity to waggle your hands at your temples while swinging your hips repeatedly, well.  I hope your dignity keeps you warm.

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13 thoughts on “Adventures in Calefaction: or, Less Orthodox Ways to Stay Warm

  1. “I made some in the name of Science, as well as the name of Frugally Using That Half-Chopped Pepper From Earlier.” How did it taste?

    Also, Tauntauns everywhere breathe a sigh of relief!

    • It tasted like Earl Grey with peppers in, which gave, overall, a weak Tabasco sauce effect. I did note that even when the drink itself went cold, the peppers made my mouth feel warm. Victory?!

      • I feel like it would appeal to someone who desperately loved peppers. Curiously, I found that some business called “Man Teas,” which I suppose attempts to appeal to those overcautious about their portrayal of masculinity, sells a jalapeno tea (which several reviewers censured as “sweet rather than hot”).

      • I think, were I to make a pepper tea, I would start with a less fragrant black tea. The bergamot in Earl Grey seems like it would be at odds with pepper.
        I would be willing to try jalapeno tea, but I would be a bit disappointed if it weren’t peppery.
        It is far less adventurous, but what about fresh ginger tea? That has a pretty warming effect.

      • Gosh, I even HAVE ginger tea around somewhere! Typically I throw a bit of Chartreuse in it for a twist on a hot toddy. But the pepper was at hand and all…I actually made my first cup with mint tea before trying the Earl Grey, and it did seem to complement the jalapeno rather than fight it (which is to say that I actually drank it, unlike the Earl Grey pepper tea which stands cold upon my desk at the moment).

      • The world needs more adventurous souls like you. In the culinary arts, at least, one never really knows what will work and what won’t until it is attempted.

  2. I dunno… some days a Tauntaun is the only solution.

    I’m with you on the Many Clothes Recommendation. (Husband comes home from work and says “You have too many clothes on. It’s like body armour. I can’t even find you under all that.” I say, “Don’t care, buster. Would you like a frozen wife instead?” Husband wonders why he married such an icicle.)

    • When Katherine took that picture junior year, I evidently told her “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Which statement I stand by, but doof! it’s been difficult finding appropriate clothing of late, I suppose.

  3. “What should I do about the fact that none of those scarves helps my nose feel warmer without suffocating me?”

    Buy one of those red clown/Rudolph noses. Problem solved.

    • Those actually keep one’s nose warm?

      Sometimes I attempt to figure out what I’d do without you, and it usually ends with broken crockery and London in flames.

  4. Yes, I was remarking on that problem with noses just the other day. They just hang out on the end of your face and go cold, and there’s not much you can do about it.

    This post reminds me of how my apartment gets during those early cold days, when the building’s heat has not been turned on. I was definitely trying (somewhat in vain, I am afraid to say) several of these techniques all at once last year, and I’m sure I will try them again soon.

    May I also suggest Yogi’s ginger herbal tea as a nice, spicy beverage? It has black pepper in it, too, so it has a bit of a kick. It probably tastes better than chili pepper tea.

    • These noses, they are problematic. Eventually we will be driven to donning balaclavas.

      Hooray for spicy tea! I’d had good experiences with The Good Earth’s spicy-sweet tea, but ginger-pepper tea also sounds good.

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