Saturday, March 27, 2010


To be honest, I probably knew that it was a problem Thursday night but I didn't want to deal with it then - I just wanted to go to sleep. When I got up Friday morning, I definitely knew that it was a problem, but I went to work hoping that it would somehow just go away. When I got home, I found that it hadn't gone away, but there was nothing that I felt that I could do about it on a Friday night, so finally, I had to deal with it Saturday morning and called the repairman about my broken furnace.

The furnace kicks on and I can hear it fire up, but the blower generally does not come on to distribute the warm air through my house. Instead, it usually makes an awful mechanical noise for about 60 seconds, interrupting my sleep both Thursday and Friday nights, but then shuts down without blowing warm air around. On occasion, it would kick in, giving me some hope that maybe it was just going through a phase and would snap out of it, but as of Friday evening, it wouldn't come back on at all. My optimistic diagnosis was that it was just an electrical problem, something in the circuitry - "a solenoid" somehow sounded like the right thing to say.

When I finally called the repairman Saturday morning, the thermostat read 65 degrees, which sounds warmer than it felt. It dropped down to 63 before leveling off for most of the day, eventually climbing up to 65, but then dropped back to 63 when the sun went down.

The repairman came by mid-afternoon and spent a lot of time up in my attic diagnosing the problem. The trouble, as it turned out, was not something so simple as a solenoid or a circuit breaker, but the blower motor itself had died. A replacement motor would cost me about $850, "but I don't recommend putting a replacement motor into a 20-year-old furnace," he advised. He recommended a whole new, more energy-efficient furnace for about $1,600.

I told him thanks but no thanks, there's no way I'm going to buy a whole new furnace at this time, not in this economy, not when the old one's still working. If the rest of the furnace dies someday, I can still salvage the new motor and just replace what's needed, I reasoned. I drew a line in the sand - there's no way I'm getting a whole new furnace.

A whole new furnace arrives on Monday. Meanwhile, my little house has no heat, so I've been spending as much time elsewhere as possible. Today, I took a walk on the new trail finally constructed through our neighborhood park (but along the compromise route, not through the middle of the meadow - and Civil War battlefield - as originally intended). The trail is officially 0.86 miles long and provides new pedestrian access to parts of Peachtree Street I couldn't easily walk to before. Later, I went to a little coffee shop out in the suburbs to listen to a friend - and Monday night regular - play fiddle with some folkie songwriters, as well as sing a composition of her own ("When Will I Become a Bodhisattva?"). I had intended to go see the English indie-rock band Fanfarlo play at the nearby Loft at Center Stage, but instead went to Fellini's Pizza, got too full to stand through a rock concert, and drove back home to brave the cold. Tomorrow, I'll be in Chattanooga for most of the day on my monthly visit to the sangha up there.

We take our comforts for granted until they're suddenly taken away. We take our wealth for granted until it's spent unexpectedly. Impermanence is swift; life and death is the great matter. Here's to appreciating our lives and not taking being alive for granted, before that too is suddenly taken away.

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