Thursday, October 15, 2009


django and perdita
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It is raining but then it has been raining for months, so that is no surprise. The new addition to the rain this time is cold; winter is icumen in, lude sing fuel bills and I find myself on the horns of a wintry dilemma. My house (as of Sunday, I will have lived in it for a year. Wow.) which, as I may have mentioned, is the youngest house I have ever lived in, being only 43, has one of the older heat sources I've ever lived with: a circa 1987, far from code, condensing boiler. What is a condensing boiler? I don't really know! But I will attempt to explain it anyway.

As I understand it, propane from the completely hideous and massive propane tank over on the side of the yard goes under my house in pipes and ends up at the boiler, which squats in the corner of the basement and looks simultaneously a little ominous and a little ridiculous. The ridiculous is mostly because some previous tenant decided to fill up the old holes in the boiler area with old pairs of jeans. Yes, the people who lived in my house had less money than sense and they were not really all that well stocked in the sense department (witness all my genius inherited Krazy Karpentry.) If all goes well, the propane then fuels a scary area of fire in the boiler that heats hot water in a system of pipes. This is not the hot water that comes out of the tap, mind you, but other hot water in a closed (except for the pieces of garden hose that are attached to the boiler and go out through denim stuffed holes into the yard. That is apparently the open part.) system which goes merrily off to the baseboard heater things that are such a pain to clean and are always falling apart. Once the hot water has made its way through the house with much clanking and groaning, there is heat. Last year, after about $300 worth of work on the boiler, a lot of muttering and shaking of heads and several massive payouts to the propane people, there was heat and it was good.

This year, all that is going to change. The natural gas people have been by many times and after months of negotiations, have agreed to run natural gas pipes down my street. The boiler guy has been by several times and shaken his head and written me up estimates and contracts and finally, a couple of weeks ago, I gulped and signed all this paperwork. All this is fine and good and I am psyched even though I am going to have to lay out some major, but major, cash - the stickler is when. Nothing can happen until the gas company puts in the pipes which they think will probably be sometime in November - late November. Or early December. Depending on the weather. The weather is not cooperating.

In the meantime, I have not yet attempted to fire up the old boiler. The propane tank is 20% full, which is not a whole lot of propane and because I hate the propane company with a white hot passion, I am damned if I am going to buy any more propane from them. I am also not sure if the old boiler will fire up one more time anyway. So I'm baking. I go home every night and try to make something that takes at least two hours in the oven and voila, my house is nice and toasty for the next 24 hours (it has this mysterious modern thing called insulation, which I had never encountered before and with which I am now deeply in love.)

The cooking theory of home warming is all fine and good but I doubt its efficacy once the temperature outside drops below 40, which it is going to do this weekend. Also, I am growing fat. Fatter, anyway. And I am running out of recipes. Wish me luck. I'm going to have to try to get the old boiler to boil again soon and I am a little trepidatious. Perhaps if I promise it a new pair of jeans.

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