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Saturday, January 19, 2008

When we bought this house it came with this humongous hunk of steel that was stuck off in a corner of the garage. Turns out it was a fireplace insert that looked like it hadn't been moved from that spot since a couple of owners ago. These inserts are supposed to really help you save on your heating bill, but they weigh a ton. Well, almost half a ton anyway. Seriously.

We decided we were either going to use it or sell it, not leave it to rust and rot until the next owners move in. But since the company that the original owner bought this thing from 27 years ago has since gone out of business, it has taken several weeks and many phone calls and one cancellation before we finally got someone out here to help install the thing.
You can see here the big black monstrosity that now covers up the oh-so-cozy fire but now blows out the oh-so-wonderful warmth that used to get sucked up out the chimney and into oblivion instead of into our home and onto our energy bill. At least, that's the idea. We probably won't see the true financial fruits until our new windows are installed in a couple of weeks.

Did I mention we have frost on the inside of our windows? As in, there is ICE, INSIDE the house. Yeah.
Regardless, the timing couldn't have been better for getting the insert installed as the temperatures in Ohio are plummeting as I type, sitting here in my now oh-so-cozy family room, never mind the not-so-quiet blower fan replacing the cackling of the fire and that ugly black facade blocking the hypnotic flames.

It's a far better cry from this time last week, when we awoke to a freezing house because the heater had gone out sometime in the wee hours, forcing John to confront our ever-so-steep learning curve on heat pumps, the likes of which we will never choose to own again. Getting a grip on the problem (malfunctioning defrost circuit board) consumed John's every waking moment for most of this week as he recruited Conner to pray with him to cash in on the 2-or-more clause while the stress positively emanated from his pores, so seriously does he take his role as the provider and protector of his family.

It was kind of cute, actually, my little Southern Boy. I mean, what did people do before central air? Pile on the sweaters and blankets and into one bed, right? Our first winter in Italy when we had a newborn baby and the heating system in our house was so archaic that I used to go around in gloves and my sheep's-wool house shoes and constantly sip on hot tea ... The kids? They honestly seemed unfazed, and no worse for the wear.

This go-around, though, we were the landlords responsible for taking care of the problem and we were seriously concerned that we were going to have to fork over the cash for a whole new heating system, something we are not financially prepared to do. (Did I mention we're about to get new windows?) We even wondered aloud if we should become a one-car family for a while, something that should be perfectly reasonable to do, no matter the spoiled Americans that we have become.

So it wasn't a good week; heat notwithstanding, we have also been having major computer issues which seemed to symptomatically culminate in my email account: I couldn't reply to emails; I couldn't forward emails; I couldn't delete emails; I couldn't page through my inbox; and I couldn't stay sane. So I mostly stayed away from the computer while John was glued to his laptop, reading and posting questions to blogs about heat pumps.

Never mind central air, what did we do before the internet?

The week was good in that it brought to attention how precarious our financial situation is; I mean, one major system blows and there goes our budget. But it also reminded me of how much worse it could always be; I mean, what if the heat had blown last week while John was TDY? I would have been stuck calling a heater guy and paying their outrageous weekend rates, because She-Man Fix-It Woman I am not.

As it was, we were cold for a while, and I had to wait a bit longer for John to get around to the computer issues, which he finally resolved last night by staying up until 3:00 reformatting the hard drive.

I don't even know what that means.

But I do know that I am sitting here across the room from our fireplace, and I am contemplating taking off my sweater so wonderful is the air in here while yahoo is telling me it feels like -5 degrees outside. Spoiled American or no, I feel like a kid who got away with cheating on a test, so certain we were that our heat pump was a goner, and now here we've got it working again with a fireplace insert to boot. Thank you, God. For my heat, and a hubby who knows how to fix things.


OHmommy said...

Yes. It is so cold here in Ohio. And getting colder. By. the. minute. Stay warm!

Mike and Erin said...


Wow! You have become quite the blogger. I was a bit behind because I haven't visited your blog in a while, but what I read was both enlightening and hilarious. Glad to hear all is well (for the most part...) in Ohio. I'm sure it's much colder there than in Aviano. Good to hear from you!


judy said...

Oh, yes, and about the attitude, adorable. Not so adorable during the teen years.