Bricks, blankets, and two-dog nights

By Alice Liles

Alice’s Note: This story first appeared in my blog The Bright Lights of Muleshoe on February 20, 2014.

Most winters in Muleshoe are cold, just like our winter weather is now, so I thought this might be an appropriate time to share a childhood memory of winter trips to visit my grandparents in Olney, Texas, where the winters were also pretty darn cold.
After putting up with cold sheets for most of the winter this year, it dawned on us to add an electric blanket to our linen collection. Why didn’t we think of this sooner?
It has been a while since we have had an electric blanket. Over the years they would quit working, get torn up or worn out, lose their controls, whatever, and over time were not replaced. This winter has been especially icy, and since our two-dog heating system was a bit spotty and unpredictable, a spiffy new blanket was just the ticket. I have heard that a person can gain a much as eight pounds a year using one of these modern conveniences instead of producing their own body heat under the covers. After this winter, I am willing to take my chances.
Comparing the warm bed to icy sheets brought back memories of Christmas trips to Olney to see Grandmother and Grandaddy. We would leave after Daddy closed the shop on Christmas Eve, drive all night from Rosenberg to Olney and get there in the wee small hours of the morning, which gave the weather and the night enough time to drop the temperatures to ridiculously low degrees.
My sister and I were always the ones who got to sleep in the screened-in back porch, which had no heater-and only two actual wooden walls connected to the house. This room was in the back corner of the house and had two open outside walls that were, literally, covered with great big sheets of window screen on the outside with rolls of canvas that could be raised and lowered inside the room, which were of precious little help in warding off the cold outside.
But Grandmother was a resourceful woman and had her own way of dealing with the situation. By the time we arrived, unpacked the car, and were ready to get in that glacier of a bed, she had a brick heated and wrapped in a dish towel and had tucked it into the foot of the bed for us. We would gingerly crawl into that iceberg, giggling and gasping as our feet searched for that toasty brick. Then, of course, we wouldn’t move until we had that spot warmed up and would inch over to warm up a bigger area and so forth until the bed was tolerable and we had drifted off to sleep. If it was windy, the canvas wall covers would bang around all night and more cold air would make its way into the room. But we were snuggled up with our brick, happy and content and made it through the night just fine, thank you very much.
So if your electric blanket is on the fritz or your dogs aren’t cooperating, if all else fails, heat a brick.
And make a memory.

For more stories about Muleshoe and cold weather, go to www.aliceliles.com.

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