If I could take it all back, I'd still own a home.
When Nikole and I first saw the house we now call our home, it seemed tiny and charming. The yard was an overgrown mess with a thicket of massive holly trees in the front yard, but inside was a newly gutted-and-renovated-and-expanded cinder block home clad to give the outward appearance of a cottage.
The emphasis for purposes of this post would on the word "renovated".
There was general excitement in the air at the prospect of buying a house with new everything, primarily because "new everything" meant a long time before "anything" needed to be repaired or replaced.
That was before we discovered that the sewer line wasn't new. That, in fact, it was slightly more than 60 years old and made of creosote-soaked cardboard (which has a life expectancy of, you guessed it, 60 years).
The adventure of a new sewer line -- with all of its assorted excavations and cash payments -- was surrounded by the adventures of a new washer-and-dryer, a new refrigerator, a new toilet and a new stove.
This week, one of the last surviving pieces of machinery in our home -- the furnace -- gave up the ghost.
The first clues came in December. It was a bitter cold Sunday, and the city was climbing out of a snowdrift -- the effects of a foot (give or take, depending on your geography) of snow.
Thea and I were in the kitchen fixing tea for the still-sleeping Nikole. The furnace issued forth with a brief belch, a muted belch that probably had more energy in the attic (where the furnace lives), and the house was briefly permeated with the smell of carbon, or the back of an auto repair shop.
Nikole and Thea fled to Chester -- for clean air and warmth -- while I waited for our repair friend from Woodfin Oil. He dove right in, issued what felt like a seasoned assessment, and went to work.
His assessment was that not having the furnace actually serviced since I moved in more than six years ago bordered on idiotic. The work consisted of a bit of cleaning and lubrication. By nightfall, the house was warm once again.
This past week, Woodfin was back -- this time for a scheduled maintenance visit, arranged by Nikole. She said the Woodfin guy spent two hours in the attic, gave everything an "all clear" and went on his merry way.
Not 12 hours later, we woke in the middle of the night to a cold house. A cold house with a very quiet furnace. By the time we call crawled from bed around 6:00, the inside temperature was down to 63.
I scheduled another visit from our new friends at Woodfin, and headed off to a workshop.
Just before 10:00. I get this text message: "Um, we need a new furnace. Not even kidding. He said it is not safe to turn it on."
Awesome. I rushed home to troubleshoot with Nikole.
Two hours later, we were on the schedule to receive a brand-new, variable-speed furnace first thing Monday morning. We've spent the weekend at home, using space heaters to keep essential corners of the house warm, and constantly flipping tripped switches in the fuse box.
Nikole and Thea headed to her mom's for the night, and I climbed into the attic to clear space for the furnace installation (and accompanying refitting and insulating of our flues).
Tomorrow, we're wearing shorts for dinner. And making plans for the failure of the dishwasher.
Dinner? Beans and rice. For eighteen months.