Thursday, December 15, 2011

The heat is ... off

As you have no doubt guessed, yesterday was hooky day. Within ten minutes of putting Tuesday’s post up on the blog, I got a call from the heating repair company saying the part had arrived and they could send someone out the following day, so I made hasty arrangements to take off Wednesday and await the technician. Long story short, the new circuit control board was installed but the system still wasn’t working properly, and the subsequent node on the decision tree was “well we could try replacing this other thingamabob” but said thingamabob cost about five times as much as the previous part and that definitely represented some unacceptable veering into good-money-after-bad territory. We had already resigned ourselves to getting a new system before the summer since the A/C side was more or less shot, so rather than apply more patches to the heating side (with no certainty as to how many patches would ultimately be required to get through the winter) we called off the attempts at resuscitation and have started the process of getting quotes for a new system. It looks like we’ll probably have the replacement installed before Christmas, so we just have to make it through the next week and a half or so with some fireplace-warmed nights and chiller-than-usual mornings. All in all, not the end of the world.

Just need one of these in my bedroom.
It does, of course, reinforce my low opinion of the previous homeowners as skinflints who approached every maintenance job around the house in the most slapdash manner possible. The technician made no bones about hiding his disdain for the low-end, cheap, prone-to-breakdowns model of heater in place (repeating almost verbatim what I had been told by the technician who came out in the summer to prop up our ailing A/C). So if there’s a silver lining in this sudden development it’s that we now have the opportunity to get something upgraded in place, which should cause fewer problems and maybe even save us in the long run on energy costs when you factor in higher efficiency and so on. We shall see.

Anyway, it’s an aggravating development but, then again, it’s Christmas. This past weekend was somewhat neatly divided, with Sunday being the day we realized the heat was fading and dropped everything to deal with that situation head on. Saturday, on the other hand, was more low-key and fun as we took our kids on an excursion on the Santa Train. It was well worth the time and the cost of the tickets (and even the stress of trying to order them online weeks ahead during the scant eleven or so minutes between the website opening the sale and all the seats being sold out) and that worth lay entirely in the fact that it was the little guy’s first train ride, ever, which is kind of remarkable considering his love for Thomas and Chuggington and whatnot. The train rolled a couple of stops down the line at what I considered a leisurely pace, but the little guy sat right next to the window and looked down at the rails and ties and enthused “Look how fast we’re going!” It also occurred to me that this was the first time he had ever been on a moving vehicle without even having to wear a seatbelt, which I’m sure added to the thrill.

So fortunately we had anticipated a lot of the entertainment value being derived from the train itself as a concept because I thought the Santa part of it was a bit lacking. There are Santas who are older and have natural white beards, and Santas who wear fake beards; there are Santas who really get into character, and Santas who have a marked lack of old elf jollity. The Santa on the 12:00 Donder Express was fake-bearded and uncharismatic, and the train was packed with so many kids that interactions between Mr. Claus and each child was limited pretty much to “Hello, what’s your name? Merry Christmas! Movin’ on …” I don’t think the little guy was too put out about all that (clearly not as much as I was) but of course his mother and I still want him to have the proper sitting on St. Nick’s lap and asking for a specific gift and whatnot. So there’s a chance we will try to make that happen tonight, schedules and temperaments of the children permitting. Update forthcoming!

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