That would be because our furnace died. In the middle of baking Christmas cookies (we’re a little loose about time frames). Shaun has the week off, and “only” has to be on call, so luckily she was home to help field the contractors. Between the two of us, we make excellent decisions. I’m fluent in Contractor. You can tell me all about the heat load ratio of the house, and I not only don’t glaze over, I can discuss the best resolutions. Problem: I don’t always ask the right sales questions. I ask things like “will we have heat by tomorrow?” instead of “what are the terms of the warranty, is a 90 % efficiency rate enough to qualify us for a tax rebate, and does the warranty include labor, seals on the duct work, or materials only?” I am thankful for Shaun. I translate, she responds, we get the best solution. If I did this alone, we’d have a contractor plugging space heaters into every room, an empty bank account, and I’d thank them.
I text Daisy.
Jane: Broken furnace.
Jane: Big burly guys in paper booties tromping through house. We’re baking cookies. Sugar tracking everywhere. oh wait…pls hold.
Jane: Wrong furnace on truck. Installers calling foreman. This is definitely going into who’s on first. Plumber just showed to give a bid on the broken pipes.
Daisy: Pipes are broken??
Jane: No. But that sounds better than plumber showed up to bid on replacing corroded pipes. I’m going for Disaster Compassion here. (That’s your cue to fork it over.) Pls hold.
Jane: Plumber is arguing with Furnace guys about correct install for the wrong furnace. This should be good. If it doesn’t cost anything. Let’s watch. *handing cookie*
Daisy: Report back. Ewww. Cookie? Smash it!
(It’s okay. Daisy is in Rest Of The Year mode. I text Daisy repeatedly for help in smashing cookies, cake, and all things that cause horses to go “Oof” and give you the evil eye. She was doing her job.)
Amazingly, the arguing didn’t cost us anything, and was informative. (Conclusion: heater guys know heaters, and plumber knows plumbing. Surprise.) The furnace company was appalled enough at their series of inept mistakes that they slashed the price of installation and promised next day service, with the right furnace. Note to self: remember to ask for newest, most bungling sales guy next time something breaks. Also, remember to call heater company and tell them we know this was an honest mistake. Sales guy has five kids. I don’t want to be the reason he loses his job.
I fed the crew, hoping to induce a sugar high: I was aiming for a reckless, throw-caution-to-the-winds, I’m-onboard attitude in the installers. It worked! I love guys. Feed them goodies, appreciate their expertise, and they will do anything to help you.
It had to have been torture for them to show up with the wrong furnace, hours from the warehouse, have to communicate this to a crabby foreman, encounter an arguing plumber, and stand around in a warm house oozing the scent of freshly baked cookies.
The upshot is: I’m writing in my frozen garret wearing six pairs of long underwear and huffing on my poor frozen finger a la impoverished artiste.
Daisy is right. I really am a terrible liar.
Long underwear? Check. The rest? Uncheck. All heat-producing appliances are currently operating: the dryer, the dishwasher, the oven, the lamps*. I’m writing in the living room ten feet from the fireplace. A steaming mug of tea is sitting cozily on the side table, and starving? The fridge will not SHUT UP. Holiday leftovers continue to murmur sweet nothings from the direction of the kitchen. Painting? Not unless rolling a nice eggshell semi-gloss onto the wall qualifies one as an artiste. Right. Shivering, starving, garret, artiste. Drama queen? Where?! No no…that would be dressage queen.
It’s almost midnight, and a bone-chilling 54 degrees outside.
The rest of you set your furnaces to 54 degrees to get warm, don’t you?
*Light bulbs. I give thanks that I am cheap a frugal shopper, and swept the hardware store clean of all sale-priced, heat-producing light bulbs before the law passed. What law? The one that makes it illegal to sell normal light bulbs in California. The state that wants to legalize marijuana has formally outlawed a much larger menace: the evil, energy-wasting light bulb. Drugs. Light bulbs. Drugs. Light bulbs. How is a voting-booth parent to choose?