WHAT DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT? – Marilyn Armstrong

The heat went out. Again. Third or fourth time since the temperature started its plunge past zero. This was going to be the coldest night of the year to date so of course, the boiler went out. I called the company — and the guy who fixes stuff was supposed to call back and let me know when he would get here.

He didn’t.

Sometime around eight, I realized it wasn’t chilly. It was cold. I looked at the thermostat and it read 59 degrees. The heat was set at 67. Bit of a drop, there. I went downstairs and it was even colder.

Today, toasty warm!

I pressed the red button on the front of the boiler and it whooshed into that delicious little roar we love to hear in the winter. Then it got a lot quieter as the flame went out. After which, the chilly silence of a non-working boiler.

Two weeks ago, we had them here to fix the identical problem. I had delicately suggested that the “new” igniter might not be working but maybe no one heard me and anyway, why would a new igniter not work? It was new, right?

In the middle of July, the service fellow was here and tuned up the boiler. He replaced the igniter, which was reasonable. The heating system is not a child bride anymore. It needs regular servicing. But since that replacement, it doesn’t work. Sometimes, it stops. Normally, I press that red button (it’s really the only thing I know how to do on a boiler) and it restarts.

It’s okay, at least for a while. Other times, it just stops and won’t restart. We’ve got almost 3/4 of a tank of fuel, so that’s not the problem.

By now, it was 9:30. We’ve been working with this same company since we moved to the valley, 19 years ago. The contract includes 24-hour service because it gets very cold here and no one can survive long without a heating system. They always get back to us in a few minutes, at least to tell us when to expect the fixer. This time, the phone did not ring.

By 10:45, I was getting worried and cold. The dogs didn’t care. Let’s hear it for fur coats! I got really ON that phone call. They seemed a bit at a loss and they said they really WERE trying to get hold of the guy.

“Have you lost him?” I asked. Can you lose your service guy? He’s a pretty big guy.

Maybe the truck broke down. Maybe the cell phone battery punked out. Maybe there’d been an accident. These are dependable people and this was most unlike their usual way of operating.

Finally, I got a call back from the woman who owns the place (she just inherited it from her father)  and she said: “He fell asleep. Didn’t hear the phone. I told him to not explain, just get in the truck and GO.”

Last night? Cold toes, but warm quilts!

It took almost an hour an a half. Where does he live? Not in the valley. You’d have to travel the length of the valley two or three times to need that much time, so he must live north or even further into the empty lands than us.

At 11:45, I called again. Mainly, what I didn’t want was to be sitting and shivering by the telephone waiting for someone who would never arrive. It turned out, he was on our street and in less than five minutes, full of apologies, there he was. I told him I didn’t care what happened. All that mattered was that he was here. He’d made it, praise be.

Please, sir, make the boiler work!

Shit happens. People oversleep, get lost, lose the phones, drink too much. I don’t care what happened. I’m just glad when they arrive.

I told him my personal theory that the newly replaced igniter was the problem. “I don’t know anything about boilers except where to push the red button, but I know when I fix the computer and everything stops working, I have to do it again because something went wrong. I’m betting the igniter is bad. Until it got replaced, we didn’t have a problem. Mid-July, someone replaced it and nothing has worked right since .”

The igniter was bad. He replaced it. Heat arose. Sometimes, parts arrive already broken, direct from the factory. It has happened with cars, with the house, with the computers. It just happens. It’s not supposed to happen, but it does.

This was another “I don’t care” moments for me. How the igniter went bad? Not my problem. All I want it that the new one works and I don’t discover I need a new heating system. Heaven forfend from such a grim possibility!

Three goldfinches. Lunchtime!

Then, after he hung around another half hour to make sure it was going to continue to work, he packed up and went home. I had already hauled a second down comforter upstairs because I was pretty sure we would need extra insulation this evening.

The dogs still didn’t care.

Today, the house is all toasty. Oh, blessed be the service people who fix our broken homes, even if they do sleep through the phone call for the first three hours.

PREDICTABLE RESULTS – Marilyn Armstrong

Some nights, you can’t win.

We’ve been so tired, that finally, we decided to go to bed early. For us, which means before midnight. Maybe just a little after it. I think I was out cold by 12:30 which for me, is definitely early.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up with a searing pain in my knee, both arms numb … and I was freezing.

It turned out, the temperature had dropped a lot — like 40 degrees — from where it was when we went to bed. I had wrapped both arms around my pillow under my head, so they were numb. AND I was sleeping with one leg half off the bed so the knee had twisted into a pretty strange position and wow, did it hurt!

I had to lift the leg back into bed, which was hard because both arms were asleep. I also needed to find a warmer nightgown, close the bathroom window, and take something. Like maybe the tranquilizer I usually take before going to sleep so I don’t just fall asleep, but actually stay asleep.

It took me an hour to get it sorted out.

Position the body to keep all limbs on the mattress with the rest of me. Do not put the arms doubled up under the pillow. Put on something warmer than a summer sleep tee and find a pair of socks. Close the window. Take a few Tylenol. Listen to a chapter of an audiobook.

Jacket weather – Photo Garry Armstrong

I proved that you don’t need to be sick to make yourself really miserable. All you have to do is dangle parts of you off the mattress while locking other under your body. And let yourself chill down to heart-slowing levels.

Who knew a dangling leg could hurt that much?

I’m working at keeping all of me in the bed. A couple of weeks ago, I fell out of bed. I have a habit of sleeping at the edge of the bed. I started doing it when I was really sick and it extremely difficult to get myself sitting up and moving.  If I slept along the edge of the mattress, it was easier to move. Now, though, I seem to be having trouble keeping track of all my limbs –and keeping them sensibly organized.

According to Harvey the weather guru, it’s going back into the 80s (about 27 for you Celsius folks) with extremely high humidity tomorrow. Not to worry because it will drop down to the 50s (10 Celsius) the next day, then back to the 80s by the weekend. Or maybe not. It’s New England. We have chaotic weather.

I’m not ready to turn the heat on. It’s too early in the year, especially with oil prices so much higher. It’s just September. Winter has been lasting through April and last year it was cold through the first half of May.

Getting chilly

I try not to turn the heat on until the end of October or early November. This means lots of sweaters and warm socks until finally, I’m sufficiently miserable to up the thermostat. We need an extra tank of oil at the end of April last year which cost us more than $300 and emptied out all the money we’d been saving for exactly that kind of event. It also meant that when we needed to get the boiler tuned and repaired in July, we had no money in the account — and that was another $300.

Snow – April 22, 2018

In the middle of May 2018, it was cold. Cold enough for snow to fall and stick to the ground. I didn’t mind the snow — it wasn’t heavy enough to be inconvenient — but I minded that extra tank of oil.

This year, I’ve got a plan. Instead of telling people we are too poor to pay the higher oil prices (thanks, Donzo Drumpf!), I’m telling everyone we aren’t turning on the heat until all the people in Lawrence and Andover who got blown up a couple of weeks ago get their heat turned on.

A political statement is less pathetic. Also, with a little luck, we’ll make it through winter without having to dig even deeper into our lack of money to pay for more oil. You never know. Winter might not be too bad.

A STORY SURE TO BECOME FUNNY

Yesterday’s story today

No one should be surprised to hear there was no oil delivery. This is that kind of story. You know, the one where you wait all day for something, but it doesn’t happen? Everyone goes through this, but it never stops being very annoying. Frustrating. Lucky for me, I didn’t wait until we are down to the final few gallons before I requested delivery — so we aren’t going to run out of oil.

Yet.

According to the company, the truck didn’t come because the driver said it was “too icy.” He said he had called us and we weren’t home. Except, he didn’t call. Maybe he dialed the wrong number, but I was extremely in and breathing heavily while waiting for the phone to ring.

We’ve been working with this same company, same trucks, for 18 years. They have delivered oil to us during much worse weather, when the driveway was significantly more icy. I have to assume they hired a particularly wussy driver. Okay, being fair, we have an awful driveway. It came with the house. If there was one thing I could replace in this house, the driveway would be it.

Nonetheless, the driveway is not bad right now. I can easily walk up and down it and we can drive on it without using 4-wheel drive — with no hint of sliding.

And anyway, there’s no choice. We need oil because we heat with oil.

No oil? No heat.

It has been below zero every night for several days, so this is a bad time to refuse to deliver.

We pay for a delivery service. This means I pay for oil every month, including in the summer when we use very little. We have built up a hefty chunk of money in the company’s accounts to cover routine maintenance, any repairs we might need — and oil. There’s always more than enough money in the account. So I was forced to explain they are going to deliver oil, or we are going to have to find someone else to do it.

It’s not what I want to do, but either they deliver or they return our money so we can find someone who can deliver. There’s no shortage of oil delivery services, but I’d prefer to stay with people we know, as long as the people we know can do the job. If they can’t do it, they aren’t giving us a choice.

I much prefer staying with familiar people, but — what do you do with an oil company who can’t or won’t deliver oil?

I hope we get this sorted out today. I hate when simple stuff gets complicated. There are plenty of real complexities to life. This should not be one.

HOTTER THAN FIRE – RICH PASCHALL

Hot Summer Dancing, by Rich Paschall


Summer is in full swing, just like your dance moves.  The nights are hot and the days are sweltering.  We can tell by the sweat running down your flushed face that you are not just a Hot Child in the City, but that you have the Dance Fever.  It happens to many so do not be five alarmed.  In The Heat of the Night, you just have to get up and move.  We are not handing you a Hot Line, just our top ten HOT dance tunes.

If our last top ten list of Dance Songs did not get you out of your chair, we think these will do it.  They are hot, really hot.  In fact, they are so hot all the titles tell you so.  Yes, they all have heat (or fire) in the title.  Since you have heat in your shoes, get up and bust a move to these dance tunes. Click on any song title for the song and video, or get the entire playlist at the end.

10.  Hot Blooded, Foreigner.  Sometimes dancing is not enough in the 1978 hit.  “Well, I’m hot-blooded, check it and see / I got a fever of a hundred and three / Come on baby, do you do more than dance?”  The single sold more than a million copies and also appeared on the Double Vision album.

09. Heat Wave, Martha and the Vandellas.  There are many hot versions of this song, especially this one by Linda Ronstadt, but we thought it was best to go with this Classic version by Martha Reeves.  The 1963 release went to number one.  Yes, it was a hot hit.

08. Just Like Fire, Pink.  “Just like fire, burning out the way / If I can light the world up for just one day / Watch this madness, colorful charade / No one can be just like me any way.” And no one can be just like you on the dance floor.  Get up and groove to this 2016 pop hit.

07. Heat of the Moment, Asia.  This was a 1982 hit for the alternative rock group.  “It was the heat of the moment /Telling me what your heart meant /The heat of the moment shone in your eyes.”

06. Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone.   We can see that you are starting to pant, so it is time to slow the playlist down for a couple of songs before we have a scorching hot finish.  This 1969 hit added a bit of funk and a bit of soul to the hot tune.

05. Too Hot, Kool and the Gang. The smooth 1979 R&B hit should add some soul to your step.  “Oh it’s too hot, too hot, lady / Gotta run for shelter / Gotta run for shade.”

04. Hot Stuff, Donna Summer.  By 1979 the disco queen was rocking up the tempo with this single from her seventh studio album, Bad Girls.  “How’s ’bout some hot stuff, baby this evenin’ / I need some hot stuff baby tonight.”

03. Hot, Hot, Hot, Buster Poindexter.  This infectious dance tune got an over-the-top performance in 1987 by singer David Johansen as Poindexter.  It will add a bit of calypso to your dancing feet.

02. The Heat Is On, Glenn Frey.  This tune was recorded for the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop.  It received a Grammy nomination for Frey and a lot of air play.  The music video was very popular in the early days of MTV.  “The heat is on (flames are burning higher) / The heat is on (baby can’t you feel it) .”

01. Hotter Than Fire, Eric Saade.  The Swedish pop star scored so big with the 2011 dance tune that there were actually two official videos.  The first one featured pictures and graphics, while the second one had Saade dancing through many sets.  You might be cooler than ice, but your dance moves are Hotter Than Fire.

Play the entire hot playlist with Bonus tracks here.
Related: Can’t Stop The Feeling

IT’S TOO DARN HOT

We have been staying inside because that’s where the air conditioning is. It has been the heat wave from Hell with temperatures closing in at nearly 100 degrees (Farenheit) for weeks. And then, there’s the humidity,  closing in at nearly 100% pretty much all summer. Whatever it is they are marketing as air out there, it isn’t. For those of us with asthma or any other breathing issues, it’s unhealthy and possibly, unsafe to be outside.

72-Sun-thru-trees-Deck-Woods-080416_009

We had a long, drenching thunder-storm this afternoon. It should have cleared the air, but it didn’t. It did, however, give the plants a good watering, added a bit of desperately needed water to the aquifer, and refreshed the tinder-dry woods.

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The dogs sleep on the coolest surface they can find. Today, they are both on the hard floor because it’s too darn hot to sleep on the upholstery. I’d join them, but I probably would need the jaws of life to get me back up again.

Sometimes, you need a song to say it right. This is definitely, unquestionably the right song for the day. Maybe for the month.

UNEXPECTED WEATHER?

You can’t expect the weather … except … you really can. It’s unexpectedly hot around here. But it’s summer, so this unexpected heat wave was entirely expected and is completely normal.

The electric company apparently didn’t expect it and have gotten quite hysterical about the whole thing. You’d think it was their homeowner customers who created this emergency by our derelict over-usage of electricity. It’s not the mall which refrigerate the entire space to 65 degrees when it’s 100 outside. Oh no, never the commercial customers.

Meanwhile, it’s freaking HOT and the humidity is up there too. A couple of days ago with this weather visible on the map and the television meteorologists getting all excited, National Grid swung into action. It has been a pretty dull weather period, more notable for what isn’t happening (rain) than what is, namely muggy, gray days during which it looks like rain, but doesn’t.

National Grid started sending out (pardon the pun) heated warnings.

I got the first two via email, then two more via early morning robot calls.

Turn down your air conditioning to 78 degrees! Avoid high bills! Don’t stress our power grid. (Subtext: We need all the power to keep malls at 65 degrees. You homeowners are not big customers, so you can sit at home wheezing and sweating.)

If I turn the A/C to 78 degrees in this house, the humidity will turn our home into mold city.

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In the spirit of coöperation — and in hopes of not getting an electric bill that will knock me off my feet — I turned it up to 75 degrees. This is an older house without central air. Just window A/C. and even that, not in every room. We don’t cool rooms we don’t use much. Which is, to put it mildly, not as efficient as we might wish. It’s all we’ve got and summer is short. Our A/C units are less than two years old, so this is as good as it will get here.

By the time evening rolled around, the house was disgusting. We were disgusted.

Sticky. Hot. Everything was damp, especially us. The dogs wouldn’t sleep on the sofas, preferring the hard floors where it’s cooler. They’ll go outside only if threatened. Even so, they were throwing us dirty looks which hadn’t been washed this century.

By nine in the evening, I looked at Garry and said “How hot are you?”

“Bad,” said Mr. I Love Summer. “How are you doing?”

“I’m miserable,” I said. “I was thinking — damn National Grid. I can’t breathe!” I have asthma. The humidity was making my lungs work a double shift.

I turned the air conditioning to a more breathable 73. After an hour, air returned to the house.

I’m betting the people who write electrical usage “guidelines” are not sitting and sweating in their houses. I bet they have central A/C set for their personal comfort. They are not sweating out the heat wave. I know power is an issue, but so is quality of life.

Flash message for guideline issuers: OLDER PEOPLE TOLERATE HEAT POORLY.

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That’s right. You get older and your body is not as efficient at regulating core temperature as it was in youth. Those of us with other physical stuff, like arthritis, asthma and heart problems? Our ability to tolerate days of sitting in heat and humidity is dangerous to life and the continuation thereof.

I’m sure I’ll get the bill for this mad, crazy need to breathe. The bill alone might give me a stroke. Right now, I don’t care. I just want some air.

DAILY POST | UNPREDICTABLE?