Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

You know what's REALLY inconvenient?

Having your furnace die on Easter Sunday. That's absolutely the height of inconvenience. Because, let's face it, how many Jewish plumbers do you know? Right. Exactly.

It was wicked cold in the house last night, but it's usually wicked cold in our house because I'm a cheap bastard and can't stand paying for natural gas trucked in from war-torn nations. I'm conflict avoiding. So instead of doing something like say, turn up the heat, I went to bed. My nice warm comfy bed with the flannel sheets and the down comforter. Snore. I slept a long time.

I poked my nose up once to pee, and it was very cold, but still not unusual per se, and then dove back under my covers and went back to sleep. Ah, nothing like a nice pre-warmed bed with a Worthless Pet marking your spot, eh?

Then the children awoke and started in with the "it's FREEZING" in here. Also not unusual. Because... say it with me people.... it's always freezing in here. So I tell them to turn up the heat a bit, and they do on both zones, and it is not going on. Hmmm. But it's so comfy and cozy in my bed I decide to stay there and read for a bit. While they continue to complain.

I send the Boy down to the basement to see if the furnace has turned on. It has not. OK. So I tell him to check to see if the pilot light is on. This is advanced physics 401, way too complicated for him. But because I am a lazy bitch and very comfortable in my bed, do I get up and check it myself? I do not.

The Girl comes into bed with me. She is a walking furnace. Oh, it's so warm now, like Florida in the summer. I'm even a bit, shall I dare say it, HOT. She is fast asleep and I doze off too.

When I wake up to pee again, it is very cold in the house. Unusually cold. Biting wind cold. January in Maine cold. I reluctantly get dressed and go down to the basement where I look dubiously at the furnace. It's a big metal box. A lovely teal blue metal box. Okey doky. This calls for advanced thinking. There is a door with a couple of black knobs. I pull on the knobs and open the door. Aha! There are knobs and nuts and bolts and all sorts of interesting things inside. I know not what they are. I read the back of the door where it tells you how to light the furnace. It points out a knob where you can turn off the gas to the furnace. I turn it off. It smells like gas. It says to wait 5 minutes so I wait maybe 2. It still smells like gas. I do not like the smell of gas.

So I do what any right thinking American would do. I call the fire department. They are our friends. We have a sign in front of our house saying that we support them in their 4-year long fight against the mayor, who does not like them at all. They tell us to go outside and wait for them. Have I mentioned it is cold outside. Fah-REEZING cold. We pile on layers and scarves and mittens and head out where little kids in their easter finery are funning around having fun. Because, oh...it's Easter.

The firetruck arrives and they leave it at the bottom of the hill. Not a great sign. Does this mean that if the house blows up, they are protecting their truck? I do not know. Two beefy firefighters trudge up the hill. I bet they are cursing us. That hill is such a pain to traverse.

They arrive slightly out of breath and go thru the bulkhead into the basement. I follow eagerly, hoping to learn how to deal with my furnace, which apparantly hates me. They sniff around and use meters and check the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, all of which are A-okay. Then they shut off the main gas line to the furnace because it had a little leaky-poo. Yeah, like in "Ooops, the house just exploded" kinda leak. Then they tell me to call our plumber and have him fix the furnace. On Easter.

I bet you can guess what happens next. I call the plumber and grovel to his voice mail. He does not call back. It's Easter. We're Jewish. We killed Christ, right? He'll call tomorrow. Meanwhile, have I mentioned that it's freaking cold in here?

I have the electric oven on with the door open. That has raised the downstairs temp to around 55. It ain't warm, but we're not going to be frozen stiff when the morrow breaks.

Pray for us.

According to the fire dept web site (who doesn't have a web site these days?) this are the actions you should take if you smell gas:

If you smell a faint odor:

Look for the source.
Check pilot lights on your furnace, water heater or store.
Re-light pilot lights only if you're familiar with the process; otherwise, call us at the number above.
Make sure the burners on your stove are completely turned off.
If you can't find the source of the odor, call the number above.

If you smell a strong odor:

Leave the home or building immediately and leave the door open behind you to allow air to enter.
Call the emergency number above using a neighbor's phone or a cellular phone.
If you detect an odor outdoors, leave the area immediately and call the number.
When leaving a home or building, do not use any electrical devices that might create spark, such as light switches, flashlights, telephones, and computers.

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Blogger Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

I wouldn't have known to call the plumber about a gas leak. Interesting!

Anyway, best of luck... hope you can find somewhere warm to hang out. (I know, Easter...)

8/4/07 5:42 PM  
Blogger crazy dog lady said...

I am sorry you are having furnace troubles, having been through that myself earlier this winter I know how quickly a house can become very cold.
I don't understand though why you keep saying call a "plumber"? Doesn't a plumber deal with water pipes?

8/4/07 5:52 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Oh no!!! I'd be bundling everyone in bed together for sure, there's something to be said for body heat. I'm so sorry this happened!!!

8/4/07 10:03 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

I once asked our plumber as he was installing a gas lin in ur kitchen why they are the official work with gas people. He explained that they are trained for ding pipe wprk, checking leaks, etc. as part of their journeyman training they learn to work with gas as well. This may not be the case in all states, but plumbers are the offcial gas guys here in MA.
Margalit, why didn't you call the gas co? That would have been my second reaction as they usually have an emergency dept to deal with situations like this.

9/4/07 5:29 AM  
Blogger sp said...

you do realize that natural gas isn't trucked in from overseas. it comes from north america.

9/4/07 10:58 PM  

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