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Monday, December 22, 2008

And this is why she naps, frequently

At 7:15 this morning, my eyes fly open and I think, "Wow. The house is awfully quiet. And Cold." And I realize that the furnace is not running. This didn't happen last week when it was 65 degrees - no, it has to happen when it is wind chill three below. I'm just not good at keeping track of the oil in the tank in the basement - the gauge is meant to be comfortable viewing for men five foot eight and over, and to get an idea of how much fuel in there requires me to get something to stand on. SOOO, instead of actually keeping a stool next to the tank, and remembering to check when I am down there, I just seem to.....run out. Occasionally.

So, before I even leave my bed, I place a call to the Oil Guy and someone HUMAN actually answers the phone. We go through the ritual of spelling/misspelling my last name. V as in Victor, A, N, S as in Sam, C excuse me is that D as in Dog? As this point, my brain always screams WHY WOULD IT BE D? WHERE would it be D? but it's pointless. Anyhow, we get that straightened out and oil is on its way.

I get the dogs out of their crates and put Little Black Dog in her houndstooth coat. All business is done within feet of the front door because THEY can't wait to get back inside. I start the little gas fired heater in the living room. Close the doors on the little dogs. THEY will be warm, soon. Okay, then. I go into the kitchen to make tea, and the pipes to the kitchen sink are frozen. I go upstairs and get the hairdryer so I can take care of THAT while I am outside doing the barn chores.

Since it's Christmas Holiday, there will be no kids getting on the school bus today so the barn chores are up to me. The oilman arrives while I am out there! That was fast!

I think it is worth mentioning what I am wearing. A black hat with built in earmuffs. A black puffy coat - like rappers wear. Black gloves with the fingers cut off, so I can actually DO things. A sweater. A Turtleneck. A pair of fleece pants. Socks. Rubber garden clogs. Oh, and I am carrying a hairdryer.

I throw one pile of hay through the hole in the barn floor down to the Big Yellow Horse who is waiting beneath with three goats under her. I take another pile of hay and throw it in the door to the Big Brown Horse who I notice is shivering and favoring one leg. She is very old, and a rescue, and I briefly consider going in to put her coat on her, until Nellie Goat charges the door. I slam it shut just as her horny head barrels into it. Note to self: text DIL to help me with this later today. A belly full of hay will keep her warm until I can get back in.

By the time I have finished in the barn, the oil guy has the tank filled and is trying to figure out how to get into the house to start the furnace. Other people's houses are designed so you can get into the basement from the house, but not mine. And now you have to go through the addition, up a board that serves as a ramp, through a door and voila! There you are in my basement. The oil guy takes a minute to take in The DISHROOM which is kind of daunting, starts the furnace with a roar and a bang and I have heat. While I am down there I notice that the insulation I have stuffed in the grillwork windows (no glass) has blown out. Okay, well, I will fix that while I am thawing the kitchen pipes.

These grillwork windows are about six feet off the ground. I am five feet. There are four of them. Four times is about the number of times a woman of my age and physical condition can climb onto a wicker chair she has dragged around, so I have to maximize my opportunities. I collect all my materials - fiberglass insulation torn in the right size pieces and placed flat in trash bags, odd scraps of wood to wedge in to hold the fiberglass in place, a long piece of pvc pipe to push it in place (because of course there are shelves full of dishes in front of each of the windows) and put it on the chair. I am so proud of how I am working this. As I am dragging the chair to the second window, the arm of the chair rips the door off the furnace box. I wedge that back in with a piece of wood. Wedging is the operative task of the day.

I plug in the hairdryer and hook it over the door so it is blowing directly on the kitchen pipes. I work my way through stuffing fiberglass filled trash bags in all four windows. By the time I am finished, I am pretty sure the pipes are thawed, so I heft myself back onto the chair one more time and wrap fiberglass around all the pipes that lead to the sink.

I go back upstairs, hit the powder room and knock a mirror off the counter. It doesn't break so I am spared seven years bad luck. I am trying to remember if I broke one a while ago. It's now 8:45 am. I'm exhausted.

10 comments:

bowiechick said...

Hope you got your pipes thawed. I realize I should be conserving water but I still don't have shore power and so I'll be damned to not have running water also. So I will keep that tap running at a bit of a dribble so as to keep from freezing up.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Tana

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

Hey, Bowiechick! Whenever I think I am having a bad day because of my house, I should just imagine what it would be like if it was like yours and floating!! Holiday wishes to You, TOO!

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

Oh, and Bowiechick? You can tell your significant other my outfit was warmer than a bathrobe!

Greentwinsmummy said...

oh my word what a start to the day! Well done you for just Getting On With It x x x Heating oil here has doubled in price,our tank cost £300 to fill~a 1000litres in August 07,happily we are still on the same tank as use it just for heating water,not heating as the woodburner takes care of that,one advantage of living in a pixie sized cottage lol! as now it will be £600 to fill the tank...
Our dorky neighbours got thru a tank in 2months last year,he filled it end of December & by end of February they had run out.....
I am guessing with the increases they wont be doing that this year gulp!!!!
GTM x x x x

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

My old house has three chimneys but no working ones - and never had a fireplace. It would be prohibitive to retro one of the old horsehair and mud chimneys into something that worked! There is a new heater we are looking at that burns horse manure, and we might get that for a back-up system, but we are pretty much stuck with the oil. Our oil has actually gone DOWN in price in the last two weeks. Don't know why - no reason given. Sorry about yours - wish I could ship you some wood to burn - we have piles of that!

Compostwoman said...

Wow Shirley I feel tired just READING about your bit of a morning!

As GTM says, well done for getting on with it...

I wish I could get you in here, sit you down amd make you a nice hot drink of your choice...with a cake..

Seasons Greetings to you btw...

Cw xx

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

Tea, no sugar or milk! And cake! Oh my! that would be a treat! I am thinking that sometime in the future I should take a trip to England - maybe we will have that chance!

Gigi said...

Yikes -- makes me glad I'm a 'city' girl -- and in the relatively warm state of Texas -- haven't had frozen pipes since 1980!
Have a wonderful Christmas!

Georganna

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

Gigi! Have a wonderful Christmas! This has been like a Cyber open house!

Jaime said...

I was cracking up with the description of trying to spell our last name. I do the same thing...V as in Victor. I feel bad Mike has my car and I can't get over to do the barn chores...Hopefully it warms up and his truck will start again.