Winter escapes

Where John Calvin preached in Geneva, Wiki.  I visited this church in 1999 when I was in Geneva.

Where John Calvin preached in Geneva. I visited this church in 1999 when I was in Geneva. ~Wiki

One of the worst things about being trapped inside in winter is that slowly you dry out.  I don’t mean the drying out that takes place when you give up alcohol, I mean literal desiccation. If this keeps up, I should be a mummy in a few weeks.

To combat this loss of bodily fluid, I have filled a pot of water, added spices and orange peel, and have it simmering on my store.  I find this is far more effective than a humidifier, and the mix of cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, etc. makes the air smell sweet.  Yesterday, the extra moisture in the air aided my eyes, and I was able to read in comfort. I’m also using an eye lubricant my ophthalmologist recommended.

Yes, supposedly we have a humidifier on our furnace, and we’ve also run those portable jobs that breed mold and other vermin.  I won’t have the latter in the house.

Yesterday, I smelled something fishy in the kitchen.  After sniffing around, I discovered the plug in the little Vornado heater was the source.  I’ve had the heater for several years.  I used it in my office at one point, but it finally died this winter.

More than once my sense of smell has saved my life.  The plug was red hot, and the heater was about to catch fire when I noticed it.  Thus, I ordered another one, but it won’t arrive until the next cold spell, predicted Monday.


I went a little nuts with books this week, ordering more books about the Puritans, John Calvin, and the foundations of American politics in A Reforming People, by David D. Hall.  Hall, a Harvard historian says, the working title of his book was ‘Why They Matter.’

The book focuses on the politics of the Massachusetts settlement, why the dissenters, called ‘Puritans’ by Max Weber and others left England, and why they did what they did regarding the social organization in their colony.

For example, their comparatively strict adherence to certain forms of religion had more to do with survival than intolerance.  They were wise enough to understand that when the center does not hold, things fall apart, as the twentieth century poet T. S. Elliot noted in his poem, The Wasteland.

So these are the proverbial “horns of the dilemma”  Freedom or relative liberty and the risk that goes with it, versus autocratic rule and some security. Finding the middle ground is the challenge.

Disasters in Virginia and other colonies showed what could happened when there was no set of common ethics and no governing center.  The dissenters in Massachusetts wanted change but they wanted to do better than the other colonies.

Hall says it is ironic that although the dissenters were “trouble makers” in England, today they are considered by many to have been too conservative.

For example, how many times have you heard someone make a disparaging comment about “the stuffy old Puritan ethics”?  However, to the extent they succeeded, the origins of much most of us hold dear still exists, although it is constantly under threat.

Hall is a revisionist historian and offers criticism of much written about “the Puritans” by other historians in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  A good read.  Now back to my book.

20 thoughts on “Winter escapes

  1. It is even chilly here in SW Florida today — actually hit freezing last night. but not dry. When we visit the Colorado ‘kids’ I swear I can literally feel the moisture leaving my body. It is so dry (and so high — in altitude (lol) … you have to drink a ton of water to stay hydrated. Alaska was dry too. We like some humidity, although we’ve never been in Florida in August and SEptember, said to be the ‘wettest’ months.

    I always appreciate your history summaries and reading notes. In living where it is (almost always) summer, it is very easy to slip into the ‘summer reading’ mode all year; I need to be reminded to read some books that make me think.


  2. Enjoyed the info regarding the Puritans. Indeed, we have been taught some faulty “history” about them and many others in America.


  3. I remember that dry air problem in Chicago. We had a humidifier, but it was hard to calibrate it just right. If you set it too high the windows all get drippy. If it’s too low you dry out. I needed lots of lotion during the winter. Here in Hawaii, it’s too humid. Tsk.


  4. So glad you caught the heater!

    Funny how some tack their own views onto history without ever checking what facts are to be had. Bad weather leads to an amazing amount of reading. Got a new book in the mail and a pile from the library. I can walk there as it’s unseasonably warm here. The treat of the week though is the AAUW annual book sale here this Friday. I plan on being at the doors when they open.


    • They had nothing to say about it. From what I’ve read the topic never arose. They were much more concerned with staying alive long enough to live good lives and reach heaven. That’s the point of much of the revisionist history.

      Much of what has been written about the Puritan ethic is dead wrong. Puritans were not a monolithic group, nor were they the Evangelicals who arise in the nineteenth century and originate the Comstock Laws.
      Most people who confuse the issue confound “Puritanism” with Evangelism. They are different. Puritanism involved keeping the focus on yourself. Evangelism involves proselytizing others.

      Puritans were much more concerned with Faith versus Works and whether babies should be Baptized.

      BTW ‘Gay marriage’ a modern concept, and to set the record straight, not all Christians oppose gay marriage.


  5. So glad you found the heater before it desiccated you all the way. Yes, my book pile is getting sparse, and yes, I’ll find something today at the store. I did splurge and buy a NEW pair of lands end pants. Imagine. I’ll let you know if they fit.


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