Hot Stuff

My wife, when she woke long before I did this morning, noticed that the heat never came on last night, despite temperatures ranging down below freezing. Unlike our house in Maine, with only its massive Russian masonry heater, we have two sources here for warmth: a propane heater in the living room (right underneath the front window, so all the heat can easily escape), and electric baseboards in all the rooms (which we have barely used so far, assuming that they will suck the money out of our pockets even faster than moving here already has done so far).

The propane heater was quite handy two Saturdays ago, when she and Ezra returned from their holiday in NY State and I came back from Massachusetts. Our masonry heater would have been stone cold after a period of no fires, and taken two or three days to get back up to temperature, whereas the propane fired up with just a turn of the thermostat.

Quite handy when it works, that is — which apparently it failed to do during the night, and was continuing to fail to do this afternoon. My wife inspected the pilot light to see it if had gone out (nope), then called the previous occupants of this place (at their new home across the road). They are quite acquainted with the vicissitudes of this heater, I just found out, because the propane line from the tank in the back yard apparently froze last winter, and our apartment and the one to the west ended up without propane heat for several months.

Ah, the joys of renting. Yes, months, in winter, while (allegedly, according to what my anonymous wife… source says) the landlord and the propane company argued over whose fault it was. And the expensive electric heat continued to flow out the front window.

Thankfully, such a mess will not happen again this winter, no matter what the temperature outside, because the whole building is shifting over to natural gas in the next month or so. I first found this out one morning a few weeks ago when I was awakened rudely at 9a by a large yellow machine digging a trench in the front yard only a few feet (but on the other side of the wall) from my head.

Today, my wife finally got some heat by a traditional method, ignoring the heater and wiggling the thermostat back and forth until things worked. It reminded me of the classic story about the [insert your favorite idiot ethnic group here] man who, asked why he was pushing his house down the street, said he was trying to jump-start the oil burner.

* * *

p.s. Despite being often ridiculed by many people in the Down East region (yes, you know who you are), I must say that Bangor Hydro came through like gangbusters for us today. The Vermont Gas Company told my wife yesterday that if we didn’t have credit references, we’d need to put $100 down before they would turn on our natural gas. So I emailed BHE, asking if they would pass the word along to VGC that we have been (more or less) responsible customers for the last 20 years.

When I staggered out of bed today sometime around 11:15a, I found an email sent us at 7:32 this morning by a customer service woman named Andrea, telling us she’d already taken care of everything. Impressive — especially if she shows up at work at 7:30. “Would you like a copy as well to be sent to you?? Andrea asked, but I could see no reason why. I emailed her back, “ I don’t think we need a copy, as we already know how little money we have.?

p.p.s. I can no more see myself accomplishing anything at 7:32a than I can picture myself winning the Boston Marathon. The time is reminiscent, however, of an intriguing short movie maybe you haven’t seen: 7:35 in the Morning.

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