Little House

We knew that our furnace was an older lady, when we bought our house eight years ago. So we’ve been faithful to get regular check-ups and replace the air filters and all that good stuff. This winter, however, the old lady started wheezing and sputtering. Last weekend, the furnace started making some really loud and concerning noises. So first thing on Monday morning, we made arrangements for “hospice” care. Our local HVAC company helped us to line up some options regarding next steps we might be able to take.

Sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, however, our furnace died. When the thermostat started sending signals for heat around five o’clock in the morning, the furnace didn’t respond. And then we knew.

When we called the HVAC company, they said they wouldn’t be able to install our new furnace until Friday. So we’d need to get creative to stay warm. For two-and-a-half days between the expiration of our old furnace and the inception of our new furnace.

I built a fire in our Family Room and hauled in some more wood from the pile in the backyard. Marci figured out some ways to seal off the back part of our house with doors and blankets. That way, we could conserve heat in our Kitchen and Family Room. We supplemented the fire with a small space heater on the opposite side of the Family Room. And with temperatures topping out in the 50s on Wednesday, we managed to keep things quite livable. Even kind of cozy.

We told ourselves that it was kind of like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books. We joked that Olivia could work on her quilting sampler while I, Pa, played the fiddle (even though she doesn’t know how to quilt and I don’t know how to fiddle). With a few extra blankets that night, we were even able to stay warm in our own bedrooms.

As Wednesday rolled into Thursday, however, it got colder. More the “Lion” of early-March than the “Lamb” we’d experienced in the early part of the week. Highs in the 30s with snow flurries. It felt both weirder and more normal to confine ourselves to the Little House, as we got more practice. The Family Room became the space for computer work, video conferences, entertainment, cooking, dining, such. All of the survival mechanisms that we’d developed throughout the last year of the COVID Pandemic had to be reworked again. But we did it. And we kept a surprisingly good attitude about it.

But then it got really cold overnight last night. Outside temperatures plunged below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The bedrooms and the eastern half of the house were down in the 40s. Even our Little House was down in the mid-50s by the time I rekindled the fire this morning. And I have to be honest that those early-morning hours today were not fun or cozy.

They were just cold.

As the day has developed, however, we’ve managed to get the temperature in our Little House back up to a more manageable level. Marci and the kids baked some bread, partly to add extra warmth from the oven, but also partly to remind us of those Little House vibes. The HVAC guy has been working in our basement all day. So, it would seem that the finish line is in sight. It’s been kind of crazy, kind of fun. Still, there’s no question that we’re all going to be happy to have a central heating system again.

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