So, did I mention that next Monday, it will be 21 degrees for the low, and 41 for the high? Yep, the heat of the day will be low 40s. Did I also mention that, besides our skinny Siamese cat, Thor, that there is one other in the house who needs things toasty? She is about five foot tall with beautiful blue eyes. So, with that forecast, certainly the shift moves from air conditioner to furnace, but it also means that at least one of our two gas fireplaces needs to fire up.
We have a three-sided fireplace that separates the living room from the dining room. Actually, when I first saw it, I began to wonder what it would take to take it out and just make one larger room. However, over the last couple of years, it has become a nice welcoming, glowing feature, and it also keeps Cheri warm early in the morning when she is doing work at the dining room table, with Thor on her lap.
When the temperature alarm rang out, I made a promise to Cheri that I would start up the fireplace for the year. There is a lot in that previous sentence that can’t simply be passed over. You see, what I have discovered in my on-the-job house selection process is that when you buy a house that is, oh, say 19 years old, and now 24 years old, you reach the season when some things just have worn out for that first time. Furnace, air conditioner, toilets, garage door openers, dishwashers, and tons more – including the guts to three-sided fireplaces. About two years into our home ownership, we went through the first experience of the fireplace not starting up. Laney’s Heating and Cooling to the rescue, and they cleaned a couple of the magic wands that are part of the gas lighting, and it worked well. For that year.
The next year it didn’t want to start. At all. Completely not working, except for the infusion of natural gas into the atmosphere, which cause a bit of concern. Laneys was called again, and this time the fellow put his heart and soul into making it right. Piece by piece, I think he replaced just about all the parts needed to make the fireplace go. Please don’t ask me to name them, because I won’t ask them to write a sermon either. Finally, after the better part of a day, and numerous runs back and forth to the parts place, we had a great working, clean and glowing fireplace – and a large bill. Still, it worked!
Until I went to start things up last year. It lit, and died, and lit and died, and lit and died. Hello Laneys. Apparently there was one piece that hadn’t been replaced, but was critical for getting the gas right where the spark should be, and so he replaced it, and voila! It worked again!
This Spring, with time on my hands, I was very responsible, and turned the fireplace off and shut the gas off, and put it to bed for the summer. You can go back to the beginning of all this and re-read my promise to my wife to have the thing running and perfect for when she got home. This time, I even got out the 24-year old manual that the original owner kept, with all the pencil notes he had written about getting the thing to start. Made me wonder a bit, if the instructions had to be so annotated, as to whether the fireplace was just a stinker or not.
I turned the red knob that set the gas moving in the pipes. I then reached down, twisted the black knob and pushed it in, while at the same time, I pushed the other red button in a few times to create the spark that would like the gas and not blow up the house.
Well, I didn’t blow up the house, but I also couldn’t get the dumb fireplace to light! I will own that the first few years there was an issue of maintenance and replacement needs, but this was gonna be my year! I tried five more times, and all that resulted, I began to think, was that I was filling the enclosed glass box with gas enough to indeed rock the house. I shut it off. I shut it all off, and called Laneys.
Let me just say that you would think, after these many years of working on a problem that they might just cut me some slack and tell me this one’s on them. You would be incorrect in that thinking. Indeed, they had someone who could come right out, and charge me for a plain old service call, unless other parts and labor were needed.
I do not carry the philosophy of continuing to fix something until it becomes Frankenstein, with more and more spent on piecemealing parts. When the guy showed up, I began to talk about what it might cost to just gut the whole thing and put in a new, shiny, dependable fireplace. He then began to point out all the pieces that looked as though they had been replaced already, and he said, “Well, you are just about there right now!”
He then turned on the gas, turned the black knob, held it in and pushed the red button, and of course, the thing lit up immediately. I’m not a pre-destinarian, but I could have told you that would happen. He did give me some hints about starting it up and to just leave the pilot light running and wasting natural gas all summer, so that it would keep the humidity down and keep rust from happening, but just to rub salt in the wounds, he started it another three times, and it fired up like it was meant to.
I always hate embarrassing someone by paying them for work that they really didn’t do, but he didn’t seem embarrassed at all. So, for now at least, until next year, the fireplace is ready to warm an October morning, and make all things right.
Have you ever had times when you worked as hard and diligent as you could, and followed a plan to make everything work, and it doesn’t? Then someone else comes along, and with a simple stroke, fixes what wasn’t right, and all is perfect again? Sure you have. I have, hundreds of times. It’s really easy for paranoia to set in, as you wonder why the world hates you so much. You then wonder WHO is pulling tricks on you, putting you in such a laughable light, and on and on.
But when we pause for a moment, and instead of racing around, running into walls in a panic, we stop and think and reconsider, we intentionally discover that it just happened. One time it’s not your fault, and another time, it’s definitely your fault. I’ve always said, however, that the most important thing to remember is that it’s not what happens to you that matters ultimately – it’s what you do with what happens to you! How we respond to the events of our lives and this world that do not go according to our wonderfully laid out plan reveals who we are, and where we find our center. When I stand either mystified, or raging because things aren’t “right,” then that’s who I am. When I am able to maybe laugh, and replan, and shake my hands out and let go of the stress of having to be in control of it all, then that also tells me – and the world – who I am as well. I hope your fireplace works this year…
Word for the Day: galeanthropy. Pronounced gal-ee-an-throw-py. Of course, we can see it sounds like a Greek word, as we see the end of it, anthropy, meaning “humanity.” The galee, however, is precisely meaning, “weasel.” However, the word, or condition, is defined as a belief that you are a cat. Not acting like one in a Broadway musical, but actually becoming one, and taking on all the affectations of a cat. It would be quite a psychological breakdown, especially if you have ever put your nose close to either a can of cat food, or a litter box. It’s not worth it.
Even more, in my research about this word, I found that some held a strong objection to this word at all. If you are going to talk about the psychological mess of thinking you are a cat, it is better named “ailuranthopy,” pronounced aisle-oo-RAHN-throw-py. However, that word also claims mythical and mysterious powers, as one would become, not a werewolf, but a were-cat. I doubt you will use this one much in normal conversation…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.