Friday, February 10, 2017

Rat Tails, Dog Tongues, and Hygge...

Did you know that rats control their temperature through their tails?  When they get overheated, their tails can help regulate their heat, just as a dog's tongue does.  I know what you are thinking; "Eww, rat...Aww, dog."  What does that have to to with retirement?  A lot.

Since we took Exit 55, the weather in Oregon has taken a turn for the worse.  Yes, it rains here.  It rains frequently, as in every day for a majority of the year.  What Oregonians don't tell you is that our rain is a misty, sprinkly rain.  The kind of rain that doesn't require an umbrella.  (You can spot non-Oregonians by their use of umbrellas.)  A rain jacket, hoodie, or some sort of hat is all you need to keep dry - usually.

When we were working, the sun was sure to come out during work hours.  You could tell when quitting time approached as the clouds would build and the sky would darken in anticipation of welcoming workers to their free time with a nice shower.  A year ago, our recently retired neighbor told us, "The great thing about retirement, is that when the day's sun break appears, you go outside and walk.  That way, every day is sunny!"

Yeah, right.  IF the sun could break through, this would be a great idea! This year, we have had freezing, dumping, pouring rain.  Daily.  Most of the day.  King Rat has taken to saying, "A day without work, is like a day without sunshine."  Not only has there been a lot of rain, it has been really cold. Oregon rats are used to looking like drowned rats, but not frozen rats.  Rat tails get really cold in this climate.
This year, we have had freezing, dumping, pouring rain.  Daily.

But wait, Norway rats are the ubiquitous rats found all over the world and are frequently associated with sewers and seaports. Norway is cold and dark for an extended period of time.  What to Norway rats do to keep warm and happy?  Hygge.  (Pronounced hew-gah.)

They celebrate the darkness and cold by embracing all things cozy. Hygge is an atmosphere of coziness in surroundings, social relationships, and activity.  Think walking in snow, all bundled in warm puffy coats with fluffy scarves and warm mittens.  Coming home to candlelight and a glowing fireplace, hands wrapped around a warm mug of hot chocolate and sharing these moments with those you hold most dear.

I feel warmer and happier just thinking about it.  Which is a really good thing because as newly retired rats living on savings, we are looking for ways to stretch the budget in anyway possible. We laughingly refer to these ways as austerity measures.

We make two pots of tea a day, one with new teabags and the second as a re-steep.  The thermostat that used to be set at a balmy 68° in the evening is now capped at 66°.  Our house is cold. We have embraced fluffy socks, long sleeved shirts paired with thick sweaters and I have discovered the benefits of knitted wristlets.  Our fireplace has a gas insert. To run this all the time would require another income. I miss having a fire. I want my hygge!

I went to the largest shipping port available to any Norway rat, Amazon and found a $37 electric fireplace insert that even makes crackling noises that sound like a fire. The glow is produced from a small amber light bulb and the crackle comes from a rotating tinsel brush that hits a bumpy plastic piece. It looks like a real fire!

The house is now cozy. The imaginary fire makes us feel much warmer. It's a psychological thing, but it works. We might even lower the thermostat another degree or two.

Oh my gosh! What's that thing in the sky? It's the sun. In the middle of the day. Gotta  run. Till next time.

Find your Hygge.

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