It is getting to be door-closing season. When the weather is warm, I don't much care whether the doors in my house close snugly. But once the temperature starts dropping and the wind picks up, I feel the need to bar the door.
Part of this feeling is hereditary. I come from a draft-conscious family. My mother has an uncanny ability to detect the presence of an invading wind. When I was kid, for instance, my mom would be sitting in the living room at night working the crossword puzzle, when suddenly she would announce: "There's a draft in here." That was my signal to get up and check the back door of our house, several rooms away.
Invariably, mom would be right, the door would be open. It wouldn't be open very much. But it was enough to set off the alarms in an experienced draft-detector.
Urged on by Mom, my dad has waged a long, highly successful campaign against the invasion of unwanted cold air. He has sealed, caulked and weatherstripped. The suburban house my parents now live in is so tightly sealed that when you shut the front door, the back door flexes.
I have not had as much success as my father in the war against the cold-air invaders. When my doors quiver, it is because the wind is whistling around them. And whereas my dad's strategy is to resist the wind with a solid front, my goal is to simply cut the whistling wind down to a tolerable hum.
Accordingly, every fall I buy foam weatherstripping at the hardware store to put around the edges of the door frames.
The packages this stuff comes in claim you don't need to nail it to the door frames. The foam, the package label says, will stick to frame on its own. That has not been my experience. Rather, it went something like this.
Following instruction, I press the sticky side of the draft-attacking foam on the door frame. I shut the door. The wind no longer sounds like Mariah. It sounds more like Mr. Peppers, meek.
All is fine until I open the door. Then the foam falls off. This stuff would work fine if I would just quit opening the door.
But door-opening is a habit that is hard to break. So I end up nailing the foam to the door frame with incredibly little nails.
I have to use petite nails because the door frame is skinny and big nails would split it. I found that out a few years ago.
I won't say that hammering down foam weatherstripping with itsty-bitsy nails is frustrating or painful. But I do think that judges could consider using it as an alternative form of punishment for lawbreakers. Nailing down foam around 20 door frames could be the equivalent of a 20-year term in "the big house." As for repeat offenders, they would have to use smaller and smaller nails.
As aggravating as it is to nail down foam, I prefer to it to the sandbag-method of stopping the draft.
My wife and I tried the sandbag routine a few years ago. We read an article about it in one of those magazines aimed at people who have aspiring hopes and deteriorating houses.
My wife sewed together little sandbags -- they actually looked more like sausages -- out of dark corduroy material. She left an opening at one end into which I poured in fine sand. Then she sewed the end shut.
Finally I put these sand-filled sausages along the bottom the door. It was like a bunker, snug and sandbagged.
Everything was cozy, that is, until somebody had to open the door. When the door opened, the sandbags scattered. To restore the bunker-motif, you had to shut the door, fetch the bags, and reposition them in battle stations.
The sandbags lasted only one winter. As soon as the weather warmed, I carried them outside and "recycled" them. For all I know they still may be in that sandbox.