And watching movies like this:
And otherwise casting myself backwards in time. Turns out my middle son has been doing the same, in preparation for a trip to see Dicken's A Christmas Carol at a local theater. We had a chat about our findings today. Any time spent reading up on the day-to-day details of life in those times serves to show you, right quick, that we have it a heck of a lot easier. The lack of child labor laws alone put the fear of history into him.
Our furnace went on the fritz today. Luckily it was a very minor issue, and soon rectified. But while we waited for the repairman to show up, and the temp in the house kept dropping, it reminded me what a big deal central heating is. When it hit 60 degrees I felt like I should be able to see my breath. We keep it at a steady 65 degrees in here in the winter during the day, so it should not have felt like THAT big of a difference, but clearly I am very firmly ensconced in the lap of mod cons.
In other words -- I am a wimp.
I started to think about what it would mean to be dependent on a fire or two -- if you were lucky -- to keep you warm in a house that was ill-insulated to begin with. Suddenly, articles of attire such as knee warmers (fitted from thigh to calf), caps meant to be worn indoors, voluminous shawls and arm gauntlets (worn under sleeves, from palm to elbow) made a heck of a lot more sense. Even with all those layers, it must have been difficult to keep your fingers moving to knit up even more woolen comfort in an ongoing, nonstop attempt to keep the cold at bay.
I might have to make myself a pair of knee warmers, though they were apparently only worn by old people. Well, if the knee warmer fits... I am already past the average Victorian life span, though I can't imagine that I could easily put my knee warmers on under my jeans -- much more room under those huge dresses for such things.
That's another thing, those huge dresses... perfectly lovely, but what a chore it must have been to drag those around everywhere you had to go!