I know, I know, Christmas is over and gone are the Christmas carols. But hey, you gotta admit the weather outside is frightful lately. Our home, like most homes, has been whining and complaining about the cold. Oh, you think homes cannot talk? Well, I happen to have one that does.
First, however, I must tell you what happened the other day. I let the geriatric pets, 12-year-old Lucky and 15-year-old Puppy, out to potty. I assume that those of you who follow my column and those who remember better than me are wondering about the aged cat, Fluffy. Fluffy passed away recently leaving me sad and catless (is that a word?) for the first time in way more than 14 years. Anyway, the dogs went out to potty and Puppy, being the aged fellow he is, came back in immediately for his Milkbone. Lucky did not, and when glancing around the yard, I saw him out on the frozen lawn chewing on something. Exploring more, I was appalled to find a frozen Christmas stocking! Upon closer examination, I saw there were doggie toys laying around him and a tennis ball still in the toe of the stocking. No, I am not kidding, and no we did not buy it for him. We should have, for now he has gone and stolen, I assume, someone else's doggie gift! How embarrassing!
So many questions and a dog who cannot talk! I polled my Facebook friends that night to see what I should do. Here is my question:
My daughter's golden retriever went out to potty and came back with a doggy Christmas stocking full of doggy toys! No, we didn't get it for him! Do I:
A) Call the neighbors to see whom he robbed?
B) Assume he's been a very good dog and Santa came late?
C) Realize he has a dark side with the desire to steal?
D) Let the dog have the stupid toys?
Most of my friends implored me to just let him keep the toys. However, many were like me and were very curious. One guy suggested my adding another choice and teaching him to return stolen items. However, the old dog-new tricks thingy comes into play, so I do not think that would fly.
Now, my most humble apologies to whichever neighbor was victimized by this seemingly innocent family pet. I am just left with questions: Does Lucky have a dark side? Is this sweet, kind, "wouldn't hurt a flea" act just that, an act? Did a dog in my neighborhood cry itself to sleep over its missing Christmas presents? Did Lucky wear a mask? OK, getting carried away here. I'm trying to get some closure, so, if you are missing a doggie Christmas stocking, please call me and I will reimburse you immediately ... with interest. I may even bring Lucky for some community service.
Now, back to my complaining house. As the temperatures dropped, my furnace decided it had had enough and quit. No big problem, I mused, as I have a few of the oil/electric heaters, a wood stove and a fireplace. Hey, I've thought this all through. I bought several loads of wood. I have a backup plan. I mean, women run ranches. Hello, I can do this. Or can I?
So, with my daughter working weekends at the children's facility, the boys and I set to work building fires. Oh, nothing like a fire in the winter. However, the wood stove in the family room goes out every time you shut the door. Yes, I opened the draft. Hello, do I look blonde or something?
But no, every time the door is shut, the fire extinguishes. So leaving the door slightly cracked, the fire takes off and I run downstairs every five minutes or so to make sure the fire is still in the stove and not on the floor of the family room. This is great for my weight loss plans, too. And yes, women run ranches, I can do this.
Fire No. 2 takes off without smoking, which is a great thing as a lot of the time the fireplace smokes. This goes on for a couple of days as I wait on a repairman for the furnace. I run up and down the stairs every few minutes checking the fire or send the boys to do so. I close up the wood stove at night and let it go out, and keep the other fire burning through the night. Oh, yeah, I'm a mountain woman.
Until ... we built a fire in the fireplace the next morning and we practically had to crawl on the floor for air! The smoke billowed out. "So what's the big difference?" I asked vehemently. "There was no smoke for the past couple of days?"
My 13-year-old son, Jim, says that there is too much snow in the chimney. "No," I replied tersely. "That's not possible ... yada, yada, yada," which everyone knows the ol' "snow on the roof, fire in the chimney thing" and fires melt snow.
However, as I related the story at work and I found out later that, oh yeah, that is possible. So no more fires and the house begins groaning with cold. Finally, the repairman comes and basically puts a Band-Aid on the furnace until another one can get here.
Nevertheless, I am thankful and the crisis is over.
Then, the heater in the garage went out. It's only used to keep the dogs from being cold, so it's not a big deal, or is it? I bring the dogs into the house and they are privileged little pooches as they are staying inside now.
Waiting on another repairman, I try to fix the garage heater myself, but to no avail. OK, women run ranches, I keep repeating as my mantra. I wake up the next morning and go let the dogs out. I hear something strange. It's usually so quiet, now it sounds like a waterfall, I muse. I open the garage door and water is gushing out of the ceiling of the garage! I'm talking future swimming pool or presently an ice skating rink!
I yell for the boys and begin calling on the phone for help. I could send up smoke signals, I suppose at this point, all I'd need is to start a fire in the fireplace! I call the repairman and had a meltdown on the poor dear answering the phone. I'm talking a "can hardly talk and almost sobbing" meltdown.
The boys remind me that one of their youth leaders heads up the water company ... making a long story short, the water was shut off and the repairmen came to take the Band-Aid off the furnace and fix it as the plumber makes his way down the drive. I resist the urge to hug them and try to keep my composure and explain the ordeal.
Turns out the repairmen and the plumber all know each other and they start to work on fixing the garage heater, too! The jokes commence as they lift a small door and push a button and viola! The heater starts. I gasp. Magicians, comedians and miracle workers they are! They need capes, I tell you. But no tights. I've always thought tights were an unnecessary apparel for rescue heroes. And they did all this before noon, too!
When I replied with wide eyes, "Why didn't I know there was a reset button?" Mr. Plumberman replies, "Well, you are a blonde." Laughter erupts as I ask, "How many men does it take to help a blonde?" Mr. Comedian Plumberman replies, "Well, take a look around you girl." There stands my two sons, two repairmen and a plumber, and if you count the first furnace repairman, well the numbers keep adding up.
Mr. Plumberman also states in a principal-type voice, "Someone (he looked right through me and I felt 8 years old again) turned the heater to pilot only?"
I said nothing.
He repeated it once again.
I timidly say, "Well, I was trying to fix it and didn't have my reading glasses, and didn't know about the reset button to start with."
I was interrupted by the laughter of my shining armor rescuers.
So as we go into this next impending snowstorm, if your house begins to groan, your pipes burst, the fireplace smokes, the wood stove won't keep burning and you need any help, just give me a call. ...Women run ranches you know.
(Kimberly Short Wolfe, MA, is a home school mom and the grief counselor and chaplain for Mountain Hospice. To contact her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or call 304-823-3922, ext. 136.)