That side of the house is cold because of the sun. It shines on the roses out back. In the kitchen you can stand on your toes and see him in the the garden, gently pruning, turning the blossoms this way and that. Otherwise they won't grow, she says, or at least not be so pretty. I don't really understand how it works, she says, and takes the warm bread out of the oven.
The electric blanket is because of the bedroom on the cold side. You have to shut the door because of her snoring, so the rest of the house can't share the warmth. In the city they didn't have the extra space, but now we can take turns visiting. There is a strange odor when the blanket heats up in the cold room, but it isn't dangerous.
Don't we take care of you, he says. He is not afraid of bees. I don't go near the roses. They are fragrant in the light, tied to their stakes.
In the living room we watch TV, the Clancy Brothers on Johnny Carson. Past bedtime, she says. Don't tell your folks, he says. The room is warm and rich, bread and whiskey and pipe tobacco. His smile, her gentle early dozing. The song from the old country. The national anthem.
I don't know how to refuse the electric blanket's oppressive, heavy spell. I unplug it in the dark, secretly, to spare their feelings, but of course by then it is too late.