Friday, February 28, 2014

Polar vortex purchase

I called them The Five Egret-Men of the Ice-pocalypse:
Centerpointe Drive at West Walker during the most recent onslaught of this year's polar vortex phenomenon (which is also known as the "Early 2014 North American cold wave" or "Arctic outbreak", as if it were a form of meteorological acne).  Hunkering down and shivering, they were dropping their self-protective pretenses as they came closer than usual, closer to people and houses in search of food.  This pic was taken with an ordinary cell phone - not a telephoto lens.  
If you are in search of a souvenir of this winter's weather, this is one of your more attractive choices at the bargain price of, well, free to the public:
It's NASA's thermal composite image showing the intrusion of frigid air into lower latitudes.  It would suck to be in St. Louis right about then, eh?  
Given the severity of the circumstances, my husband and I opted for a more opulent offering, however.
After housing nothing but a couple of casual candles for four years, we finally filled our fireplace with gas logs.  
Is it cold outside?  Are you sick and tired of it?  Will a scene like this in your living room improve your mood?

The answer to all three questions is a resounding YES.  
Like every other house in Centerpointe, our builder-grade fireplace is what I call a "gas-assist".  It has a gas line running to it such that you can either put "fake" gas logs or burn "real" wood - you get a choice as to how to use it.  After going back and forth in my mind, I opted for gas logs.  The only time we ever want a fire in the subtropics is when we are desperate for one.  I decided that I don't want to be fussing around with wood procurement and storage logistics and cindery mess when I reach that point - I just want to come home and flip a switch.  If I want a real fire, I'll put one in the chimenea that we keep outdoors.
I didn't know this at the time when we ordered our gas logs from an internet retailer, but I didn't actually have a choice in the matter.  Our winter has been so severe that there's basically no real wood left to be bought locally, and there might not be for some time to come.

Let me guess
:  You have noticed and driven by this store on East Main Street umpteen million times but never stopped, right?  Such was the case with me until last week when I dropped in to buy a fireplace gas valve key (our builder never supplied one) and chat up the proprietor.  He basically had almost no wood left for sale, and was even concerned about his ability to procure enough in time for the next season of high demand.  He told me a "never seen anything like this" story of shoppers snapping up firewood.

Image screengrabbed from Google ground view.  
My husband was mortified that I chose this "Mountain Birch" style of gas log instead of the familiar (and way-over-done) oak.  He said, "We don't have birch in Houston - it's going to look out of place."  I replied, "We don't usually have Arctic air masses persisting for months on end, either.  If you squint your eyeballs, you can pretend that it's sycamore."  :-)
I had a specific design purpose in choosing white logs.  In this post from about a year ago, I described how we initially invested a whopping $180 to make our fireplace look just a bit better than builder grade. In accessorizing the result, I used a stark contrast between the paint and the white photo mats above and beside.  I needed white logs below to coordinate and counterbalance all those mats.    
Notice how the new gas logs also complete both rule of diagonals and rule of thirds visual effects here.
There are three clusters of white-containing objects which visually "pop" out of the scene...
...and furthermore, your eye follows diagonal pathways when roving from one popping cluster to the next.  
That's helpful because even the best fireplaces are usually artistic atrocities in that they are dominated by both horizontal lines and bisection, both of which are displeasing to the eye.

And what better way to memorialize this meteorological manifesto than with a meme!  (My husband hates it when I use cheap literary parlor tricks like all-consuming alliteration - he thinks the practice is beneath me.  Sorry, sweetie.)   Happy weekend, and yes, this winter has to end soon.  Finally.
This masterful meme was melded by Mermaid Musings, a Facebook community, although there are many similar offerings floating (skidding?) around the internet right about now.  

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