Last week was a week to end all weeks!
OK … Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. But for Carol and I, it was definitely a week of incredible joy sandwiched by high-levels of anxiety and a touch of aggravation with an extremely cold coating of Winter.
The almost Head Injury
The Aggravation portion of the week started last Friday when I noticed a 7 degree difference between the house heater’s thermostat setting and inside temperature. After ten minutes of playing with the thermostat while listening for the reassuring sound of the heater kicking on (a well-known method of heater evaluation), my wife offered some of her folksy wisdom.
“The heater’s not going to come on just because you’re staring at it.”
I couldn’t argue with her.
Fortunately the heater eventually came on by itself, but it was a portent of things to come. And on Sunday morning I woke to a cold house and no heat from a unit just a year-and-a-half old (Lennox).
Sunday was a miserable day with rain freezing on the ground. Not that I appreciated that as I frantically called my very responsive HVAC guy.
Dan described the potential pitfalls of ice damming up outlet vents and warned of the nasty, icy weather outside. The first thing he wanted me to do was check the opening on the outlet vent for over-icing.
Of course I was half listening (Carol would be shocked …) as I wiggled into boots to contend with the snow piled up around the side of the house where the vent was located.
So I stepped out of the house, crossed the porch; stepped casually onto the first step … And promptly landed right on my gluteus maximus after a failed Flying Salchow with a Twist. Nothing hurt but my pride and my wet, cold butt. The scary part was feeling the back of my head lightly thumping the cement porch, inches from a serious head injury.
The solution to getting heat into our home this day ended up being the skillful hammering – That’s right, hammering – on a half dollar-sized piece of indubitably foreign-manufactured plastic that forms a pressure switch.
As I triumphantly declared “Heat on!”, Dan the heater guy, promptly offered me all his weekend emergency service calls!
Harper Jeanine (Needless to say, the highlight of the week/month/year!)
Sunday night the alarms went off. A simple call from the northern edge of the Shortall family, a small town near Williamsport, set in motion a whirlwind of grand parenting speculation and frantic decision-making.
Mom’s water had broken and the Launch Clock was running!
We opted to wait until first thing Monday morning to leave for the Home of the Little League World Series hospital because the weather up north consisted mainly of freezing rain. And of course, shortly before we were to leave on our three-hour race to the north, we got the call that we were Grandparents!
Harper Jeanine … 7 pounds, 12 ounces of incredible unbaby-ugly cuteness was born at 0719 hours at Williamsport Hospital!!
And with hitting official Grand Pop status, I aged a decade – mentally – in an instant.
But without a trace of subjective Proud GrandPop blathering, I can assure you that she is in fact the Most Beautiful Baby of 2014!
She has all her fingers and toes. (I checked several times.) She smells of new-baby-scented perfection. (I checked several times.) And Harper Jeanine looks a lot like me. (That I checked a few more than several times.)
There is no doubt she is the product of a perfectly developed and extremely attractive gene pool, of which of course I consider myself Lead Specimen. And no, I am not saddled with an overactive self-perception!
Heat? Who needs heat?!?
After a joyous day of baby coddling and embarrassing goo-goo talk, Father Winter decided to ratchet up my desire to retire to Arizona with two days of the coldest weather many will remember ever experiencing. The Wind-chill in Williamsport on Tuesday began at -6 and wormed to a toasty +10 by mid-afternoon.
Since I was tasked with welfare checks on our new tenant, my father-in-law, who declined to make the trip with us, I made several “What’s up?” calls home. When I asked my FIL how everything was on Tuesday morning, he told me the house was cold.
uh oh …
“How cold?”, I asked, “What’s the thermostat reading?”
He laughed, and told me without a hint of concern, “53”.
uh oh …
Now fortunately, I have a very good neighbor, an ex-Marine who loves a good crisis. He’s a dependable, no-nonsense, get-it-done type. We help each other out whenever we can. Everything good neighbors are supposed to do.
And he’s good friends with my former Marine HVAC guy! So, with a minimum of frantic scrambling, more pressure switch pounding, and frequent house checks by the Marines, we were able to avoid Frozen Pop-Pop Syndrome.
Getting the cheap foreign-made replacement part was another problem altogether, complicated by the horrendous weather, or so the parts supply source kept telling us.
So for two days I spent a bit of time making phone calls and requesting neighborly Wellness Checks. And I harassed my helpless HVAC guy who eventually had to beg the required part from his Lennox tech rep.
This Winter is stacking up to be a real (select your favorite Adjective of Disbelief here). But Harper Jeanine is here, and everything will end up just fine!
OK, since you insist …