January, 2020

I’m happy to say that I paid a whole pile of household and shop bills and didn’t once write 2019 on the checks … and the new year has begun. The  car insurance for the year of 2020 is paid, as are the third quarter property in the shop and house real estate taxes, and the next tri-monthly medicare payment, and the quarterly water bill along with the routine monthly utility bills… and a sigh of relief escaped, with still enough to buy food and meds.

Of course, the following day temperatures here dropped to the teens, but the oil furnace was running (and the gas furnaces in the shop and in the greenhouse were as well.) But a few mornings ago, at about 5:15 am, I heard a door creaking, as though the wind was blowing it against its door jam.  I went downstairs and felt the chill as I descended.  The furnace was blowing warm air and making its usual sounds, but the first floor of the house was freezing … literally. The strong winds had blown the unlocked porch/kitchen door open and I was wastefully heating the outdoors.  I closed the door quickly, but then opened again as I realized i hadn’t seen Pretty Kitty on my way down.  Sure enough, she had escaped through one of the loose porch screens. I had no idea how long the door had been open, or how long Kitty had been out.  I ran back upstairs, grabbed my robe and slippers, and came down and began going door to door, parlor, porch and back room, Kitty-Kittying my heart out.  After a few rounds of the doors, I saw Kitty out the kitchen window, racing down the driveway toward the back door, and I met her there and welcomed her in.  We sat together, snuggling and warming each other, and then I fed her and we went back up to bed.

I woke again at 8:15, and went downstairs and again felt the chill. I went to the thermostat to turn it up a bit, but found it not working.  The furnace was silent … the grates were cold, and I wondered how long it had been out between 5:15 and 8:15. I called our oil company, and they had a repair man out to the house within 15 minutes. He spent an hour down in the cellar, and when he came up he had good news and bad. The furnace was again running, but there was a small leak in the oil tank in the cellar. He said he had applied a temporary patch but said it would not hold long. He said the leak is small, probably only leaking during the tank’s filling as the sediment in the fifty year old tank would be moving around and then settling back over the weak spot in the tank, but said he did not recommend continuing to have that tank filled, and strongly suggested I have it replaced before it leaked ten gallons or more, which would trigger a federal hazardous waste removal order, costing tens of thousands of dollars. To replace it now would cost about $3,000.

I told him I might prefer to switch over to natural gas, as that is what my water heater,  greenhouse and shop heaters’ use.  He said my oil furnace can be converted to a gas burner, and that he would get back to me with figures on that cost. I told him I would also get second opinion/bids on the job.

I will call him back Monday morning to see what he has calculated… and I will try to find the name and number of the company that installed the new gas heater in the shop last year.

So the new kitchen floor will have to wait another year … the first year was for the cost of removing the two tall white pines that had been dropping limbs on the greenhouse and front door … the second year was for the cost of removing the old furnace from the shop and replacing it with a new one, and removing the old AC from the shop and replacing the modified window and the front store window … maybe the third year with the new gas burner and the oil tank removal will be the charm, and the kitchen floor will wait only one more year….

The temperature both yesterday and today rose to 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit, but will return to 20 tonight, and then 40-45 tomorrow.  The January thaw has come and gone, and the winter is again settling in. The furnace just kicked in, reassuringly…


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