Monday, January 9, 2012

Domestic Dani, or, Cold and Wet

This weekend, I was Domestic Dani.  I began on Saturday by doing two loads of laundry, realising only after the second one had gone in that the dryer wasn't working.  No problem; it was beautiful and warm (for January) at nearly 9 degrees (just under 50-ish F) outside, so I hung everything on the clothes airer in the back yard.  Then I got my workout clothes on and rode my bike into town, intending to deliver a book for my boss, then deposit a cheque in the bank, and then do some light grocery shopping all before the second load was finished--which was perfectly within the realm of possibility, because our washer cycle takes hours.  I made it through the first errand easily enough, but when I got to the bank I realised they still had my address as Lincoln College, so I asked if I could fill out a form to change it.  Apparently you have to see an "associate" in order to do that, so I was sent up a staircase with a shiny mirrored wall (always interesting, as there is no full-length mirror in my house, and I am rarely able to view any part of myself lower than my waist) to sit on a cushioned chair and wait for an associate to become available.  The twelve-year-old boy who came to assist me was very sweet and pleasant, with a cute accent that made him seem even younger, and I waited patiently whilst he fought with the computer, which made him enter my new information twice before it would retain it.  Then he asked if I wanted to open an interest-earning Saver account, as I was now a resident (it hadn't been an option when I was just a student), and as I had been thinking about doing so, I said yes.  This involved entering all sorts of information about my current job and what my plans were for the future.  He also took the time to tell me about the ISA Barclay's would launch in March.  This is a kind of tax-free, high-interest account with a limit on what you can contribute each year, much like an American IRA, except that it isn't a retirement account, and you can withdraw the money without penalty whenever you wish.  (And they pronounce theirs "ice-uh" while we say "I-R-A".)  It sounds like a pretty good deal to me, so I will go back in March to see what it is all about.

Having spent much more time in the bank than I meant to, and feeling suddenly cold because the winds had picked up, I decided to go home and take my laundry out of the machine before doing any grocery shopping.  I got my sheets out first, because I only have one set and I wanted them to be dry enough to sleep on that night.  I thought the high winds would help to dry them, even though our yard doesn't get much sun, and the airer is stupidly placed where it receives the least of all.  I collected them 5 hours later, because the dew was beginning to fall and I didn't want them to get wet again.  Of course, I needn't have bothered; neither they nor the other clothes I had put out earlier were dry.  I have no idea why.  Things just don't seem to dry around here.  Sometimes I try to dry my laundry in my room, and three days later things are still wet.  Of course, my room is entirely another issue.  It is always, always cold in my room.  Even when the entire house is warm, my room is cold.  You walk into it from the warm hallway and feel an immediate drop in temperature.  Sometimes at night I am shivering so much in my bed, even when wearing sweatpants and hooded jumpers, that I can't get to sleep.  When I do sleep, it is excruciatingly difficult the next day to get out of bed into the cold morning air, and even worse to think about removing clothing so I can shower, or put on work-appropriate attire.  I have tried everything I can think of to warm my room.  I keep the window closed at all times.  I put cling film across the glass and over the cracks.  I hung an old duvet cover inside the existing curtain, to give it an extra layer, and I always keep them closed (unless it is a rare sunny day and I am home, when I will open the curtains for the three hours that the sun shines into my window).  I put tin foil behind the radiator to try to prevent any heat loss through the wall.  Nothing works.

I have recently discovered that my radiator does not get anywhere near as hot as all the others, nor as quickly, so I am convinced I need to bleed it.  I have tried to do this with the radiator key in the kitchen drawer, but it does not fit my valve.  A friend gave me his radiator key to try; that did not fit either.  I have fiddled with all of the valves and knobs I can find, and I have read every internet site about how to bleed a radiator without a key, which all seem to involve tools I do not possess--and some liberties I probably can't take in a rented room.  I sometimes sit on the floor with my back to the radiator just so I can enjoy some of the heat that I am paying for but not receiving.  When I move away from it I am immediately cold again.  I have recently put an old single duvet lengthwise across my bed, underneath the fitted sheet, for an extra layer of heat beneath me, and my friend has purchased me a hot water bottle, so at least I will be able to sleep.  I have a vanilla-scented candle in a glass jar that I burn on occasion to trick my brain into thinking the room is cosy because there is a fire in it.  Maybe I should call the landlady...

Not my experience with the dryer.
We are going to have to call her anyway, about the dryer.  I tried to fix it, myself, while waiting for my bread to bake, but it didn't work.  See, after I had hung my second load of laundry to dry, I decided I didn't feel like grocery shopping just then, but I did feel like baking bread.  So I measured and mixed and kneaded, and then put my ball of dough into the boiler cupboard (the warmest place in the house, ironically not two feet from my bedroom door) to rise.  Meanwhile, I decided I would make a soup out of the broccoli I had bought the other day and the sweet potatoes that were languishing on top of my refrigerator.  So I chopped and sautéed and boiled and stirred and simmered, and had just finished with the immersion blender (of course having forgotten to remove the bay leaf, but I guess it won't kill me) when it was time to put the bread into the oven.  I covered the soup so it would stay hot, and anticipated a delightful homemade dinner.  All this time, I had been trying to dry some of my socks and underwear in our condenser dryer, to no avail.  I had emptied the water container (condenser dryers are supposedly more environmentally friendly because they condense the steam from your clothes back into water, which you have to periodically dump down the drain...I don't really understand why this is better than having a steam vent to the outside); I had cleared the lint screen; I had even dug down below the lint screen to get all the soggy bits of old lint that had collected there when others hadn't cleared the lint screen.  At first the dryer had pretended to do its thing but had really just made my clothes warm-and-wet.  Now it wasn't even pretending.  There were two lights glowing, one of which told me the water container was full (it wasn't, because I had just emptied it) and the other saying to clean the heat vent.  So, I popped open the filter compartment at the bottom and pulled out a vent contraption that was covered in soggy lint, and following the pictorial instructions on the top of the machine I took it over to the sink and rinsed it as best I could, after which I took it into the bathroom and hosed it down with the shower head.  This was a very messy process, and both kitchen and bathroom, as well as one Danielle, ended up soaked.  (I also had to pull the balls of lint out of both drains when I was finished...)  I reinserted the vent and tested the dryer, hopefully.  It seemed to start up...and then promptly stopped, flashing the same two lights at me as before.  At this point I gave up, washed my hands, and ate my delicious dinner.

Hello, my friend, hello
Today I added some athleticism to my domesticity, beginning the day at 9 a.m. by cycling to the Head of the River to meet Lauriane and Natasha for some voluntary erging.  This is what I had been missing in my life!  I had replaced it, to be sure, with a serious amount of Christmas cookies and mince pies and multi-course meals, but somehow those just left me feeling empty inside...and by that I mean really full and almost a stone heavier than I was last year after Summer Eights.  So I jumped at the chance to do some training with my former teammates, knowing full well that it would hurt like hell.  Unfortunately, when we reached the boathouse we found a group of boys already on the ergs, and due to continue there for another hour.  Lauriane had to be in the lab, and Natasha had to do some work, so we agreed to come back around 5 or 5:30 p.m.  Knowing how unlikely I was to want to do that, I rang my friend W to see if he wanted to do some light jogging around South Park.  He was up for it, so we spent a lovely 25 minutes or so alternately jogging and walking, while also chatting and taking in some of the beautiful views of Oxford that you get from the top of Headington Hill.  Afterward we stopped for a coffee and a croissant at the Starbucks opposite the Headington Shark, and then I cycled back into town to go to Sainsbury's and do some grocery shopping.  Twenty-eight pounds later I was fully restocked, after having gotten rid of all of my food before the Christmas break.

When I got home it was back to cleaning: I helped Evan clean out his fridge, which Chris had filled with food for him before he left, and which Evan then had not opened for four weeks, resulting in extreme moulditude and some fungerific sliminess.  Then I tidied and vacuumed the living room and wiped down the kitchen in anticipation of our new housemate, who was meant to move in that afternoon.  (Of course, the kitchen has been used by three people since then, and Michel has only just arrived, so I guess that was a wasted effort.)  After a tuna salad lunch (paired with my homemade bread), I then came upstairs to do a little tidying of my own room, including reorganising my shelves, which contained a jumble of books, papers, packaged food, and bath products in varying amounts.  Who would have guessed, after all of that activity, that I would actually get myself back out to the boathouse to erg this evening?  It may have taken repeated text-prods from friends, but I went, and I did 30 mins of erging plus 15 mins of core exercises, and now I am completely exhausted.  I have eaten a dinner of cold leftover soup, followed by some peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-oat balls (to which I added some dried cranberries, for colour and textural variety) and a large mug of milk--so much for my grand plan to make sausage and peppers when I got home--and I think it is bedtime.  I guess my Perfect Housewife Weekend has come to an abrupt end.  (Aaaaand my internet has just cut out, so I won't be able to post this tonight.  ::shrug::  Oh well!  I'll post in the morning.  Good night, all!)


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