Unlike people who live in more northern climes, we feel the cold more in Southern California, and while you might think that's because we're pampered, thin-skinned wimps, there's another reason. Our houses are simply not made for cold weather.
We have huge floor-to-ceiling windows designed, California-style, "to bring the outside in." Well, they certainly do that, especially on cold nights when the cold air flows right through the gaps in the louvered jalousie windows. We have flat roofs without insulation, so any heat we generate inside seeps through like osmosis.
Our problem is that cold snaps occur so rarely we forget how poorly prepared we are, and our deficient our heating system is. We shiver through a frigid night, and the following day it's 85 degrees in the Valley.
Our house was built in 1962 when "all-electric" was the latest building trend. We have a fifty year old electric central heating system, which actually means we have no heating at all.
Think of having two giant toasters glowing away in the basement. Ancient unprogrammable thermostats regulate when the toasters go on, which they do with a huge light-dimming thump. A fan desultorily wafts some of the heated air through yards of uninsulated aluminum ducts. By the time a fitful breeze flutters through the floor grates in our bedroom, it's not much warmer than the ambient air.
We've learned to ignore this whole thing. We've turned it off completely. Instead, during the rare cold snaps, we heat our house with the fireplace and with electric space heaters in the rooms we occupy.
I like these rolling, oil-filled radiator heaters. I have one next to my desk chair right now, another next to the bed, and there's a third in [The Man I Love]'s office. I'm almost thinking I should put a leash on them and roll them around with me wherever I go.
Living in a cold house inspires some odd clothing combinations, too. I prefer to sleep in a tee-shirt, but on cold nights I might wear flannel pajamas. On really cold nights I might wear a tank top under my flannel pajama top. Or even a long sleeved tee-shirt. And socks.
Even if I don't wear socks to bed, the floors are so cold I have to wear socks when I get up. And it's cold enough I need something more than my sleeping tee-shirt, so sometimes the flannel pajama top becomes an extra layer, sort of like a bed-jacket, only frumpier. And a scarf keeps my neck warm.
This morning when I walked the dog it was cold enough to see my breath, and in the places where the sun had not yet touched, there was frost on the baby leaves of the sprouting weeds. My dog-walking ensemble consisted of:
Flannel pajama pants printed with dogs and milk bones, worn beneath a pair of too-big taupe-colored knit jeans - I don't wear these out anymore, but they sure slip easily over a pair of flannel pajama pants. I wear them for the extra layer and because I still possess some vestige of propriety about appearing on the street wearing flannel pajama pants.
A purple, long-sleeved cotton tee-shirt, worn beneath a button flannel pajama top, printed with dogs and milk bones.
A flowered silk and linen scarf, knotted around my neck.
A navy fleece jacked embroidered with the name of my employer.
Leopard-print socks. These must have been left behind by my son during one of his visits, because I have no idea how they got into my drawer.
A pair of salmon colored Croc sling-back ballet flats. These replace the purple colored Croc ballet flats that I used to wear until the sole actually wore through against the asphalt of the road.
Red stretch gloves. A black ball cap that says, "Got Art?"
I am a sartorial nightmare, but when it's this cold, I just don't care anymore.