Saturday, January 10, 2009

Freezing My Flip-Flops Off!

The words haunt me. Recently, they are even audible. Though not in the same voice as they were originally spoken. Let me explain...

As we were frantically packing for this adventure, Lisa asked me how much of our warm clothes we should pack. Having lived in Michigan our entire lives, we had a good selection to choose from.

At this point it may be helpful to understand that Lisa likes to pack 20% more than will fit into the maximum allowed luggage. I like to pack reasonably - at least that is what is seems to me. Understand that she will disagree with the last two sentences. But that's okay, you still get the idea of the thoughts at play when she asked the question in the first place. Now back to the story...

Thinking we were moving much closer to the equator than we had ever lived before, this seemed like a rather simple answer. But I had done some research. I knew that Bontoc had months where the average low temperature could be as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit. So I was not ready to completely jettison socks and warm shirts, maybe even a light jacket. Then I spoke the words which I now hear often in a voice much like my bride's but with a more mocking (sometimes irritable) tone, "It's not that cold there. It's not like we will need winter jackets and sweatshirts."

In some ways, that is true. The temperatures have not been that low. Rarely have we seen anything below 60 degrees. In other ways it was sooooo wrong. It's not that cold there.

If you have never lived in the north, you may not understand the misconception under which that statement was made. In the north, you see an odd thing take place on the first warm, sunny day of the year. When the temperature first breaks the 40 degree mark on a beautiful, sunny day, people will drive with their car windows open. Kids will run home from school carrying their jackets - or forgetting them in their excitement to get outside. As spring nears, the temperature required for this sort of insanity will climb. But when you are used to low temperatures beginning with the minus symbol, 50's doesn't sound too bad. It's not that cold there.

Another contributor to my haunting statement has to do with construction. In Michigan, our home had insulated floors, walls, ceilings, doors, and windows. We also had a heating system. So when the outdoor temperature dropped to those really cold temperatures, you did not care as long as you were inside. If the day was warm, an overnight temperature of 50 degrees probably would not even need the heat on to keep the inside of the house warm. It's not that cold there.

In addition to the two prior paragraphs, we had warm clothes. Dressers, closets, and an armoire housed an array of garments able to insulate us from the temperature surrounding our bodies. Keeping us nice and toasty. It's not that cold there.

Now we are here. The first warm, sunny day effect has not yet taken place. Even when it does, its effect is fleeting, as described above. Our home is not insulated in any way. Don't get me wrong, God has given us a nice home. But as I sit next to the window typing this, the curtains are moving with every breeze. The single panes of glass that are glued in place on the steel frames are not exactly Anderson or Pella. We even ran our internet cable through an existing gap in the framework. But I can take comfort in the hope that the tile floors (carpeting is non-existent here, but so are vacuums so it all works out) should keep our feet nice and cool when warm weather comes, too. It's not that cold there.

If you would like to understand, just turn your heat down to 60 degrees and limit yourself to long sleeved t-shirts and regular socks. (No cheating and putting on wool socks or fuzzy, bunny slippers.) I suppose you could be like our girls who have adapted to the culture a bit better and don't wear socks. It's not that cold there.

But hey, at least I can look forward to a nice, slightly above lukewarm shower. Well, if the water pressure does not fluctuate too much. There it is again, "It's not that cold there."

Today Alexie asked me whether I would rather be hot or cold. My answer, neither. But I would rather be where it is really cold than really hot. Until I gave my haunting answer, I could always dress for the cold. Let me tell you. It is currently 65 degrees in the house and I am freezing my flip-flops off!



  1. Very funny and informative post!

    Be warm!
    Holly Wallace

  2. Oh ya all, I feel your pain!!!

    Judith Herdklotz

  3. Well, I just opened my closet to get dressed to go sledding and found that I have six different winter coats. Want me to send you one?

    -- Todd

    Oh, and by the way. When the weather hit an unseasonably warm 51 two weeks ago, I did put the top down in the convertible :)

  4. We do keep our house at a nice 60 degrees. Warm enough to keep the chill off but cool enough to keep the heat bills down, but there is no way that would be tolerable without a nice wool sweater or warm slippers. Sorry you are all feelings so chilly, wish I could email you a few woolies. Keep warm. I've heard that in the mountains families all sleep in the same bed (maybe group body heat would help LOL!) Love In Christ, Todd and Michelle

  5. Hi Tom,
    One thing that you're forgetting as well is that your body thermostat is no longer set for Michigan (which is currently experiencing -40.) But you and your family are acclimated to the Philippine warmth! I feel for you! We came back from Thailand to cold, wet, Salem in November, and it took a few weeks just to get warm! I got to spend a few weeks above 4,000 ft in Northern Thailand as well, and it was quite chilly there!
    I miss you guys! But I'm glad you're "living the dream!"

  6. Soooo true! No holes in the framing or glue on the windows, but as I sit and type to you this morning, I can feel that cold air (went down to 43 here last night..arghhh!) literally pouring off of the single pane glass and onto my leg. Stay warm and don't give up the flops! They are a way of life!