0719 PV Headshot Jean Shriver.JPG

My grandmother grew up in Geneva New York, a town with very cold winters. She spoke of breaking the ice on their washbasin water on frosty January mornings. She also said all the girls in the family got chilblains which I had to look up in the dictionary. Found chilblains to be a “painful itching and swelling of hand or foot when exposed to cold.”

Wow, that must have been some cold back in nineteenth century Geneva ... who ever heard of anyone getting chilblains today? Certainly nobody in California where the weather is usually balmy.

Lately, however, the Shriver family had to wear extra sweaters and warm socks, as we haven’t had heat in the house all fall and things had gotten mighty chilly.

Way back in September I asked our friendly furnace guy to take a look at our 20-year-old machine, give it a bit of a cleaning. Alas, Bob pronounced our old machine close to terminal. He opined that repairing it would be throwing money away.

“Okay,” I said through gritted teeth, “order us a new one.”

That was September. Soon I was in daily communication with Michael in the furnace office, as well as Bob, my trusty repair guy. They were looking for a new furnace.

So they looked. And they researched. And looked some more.

Our house was built in 1930 by an Easterner who put in a three room cellar just like they had back home. And he put radiators in every room. Which was a problem as today few California houses boast radiators, So Michael called and called and called. It seemed nobody wanted to sell us a new furnace.

September was warm and we were patient. Ditto October.

When November rolled around, the thermometer began going down and we began getting antsy ... and cold.

Finally my men located a new furnace that would heat the house and had some fancy doohickey so I could quit my periodic trips to the cellar to poke something with a metal rod which filled the water in the furnace. I cheered that change.

But there followed one hangup after another about delivering said furnace to Rancho Palos Verdes.

Finally at the end of November when our teeth were chattering, the thirteen hundred pound “thing” arrived. One Monday six trucks of burly guys showed up ready to get the monster down into the cellar. It took several days to achieve that. And still we didn’t have heat.

Then it was just Bob and Max who arrived close to seven each morning and tramped downstairs.

Things seemed to be humming along, but we still shivered. My chair-bound husband is very sensitive to the cold, so we started building huge fires in our open fireplace. That helped. Flames leaped up past the brass andirons and we rubbed our hands together savoring the warmth.

Max promised heat by Friday, but Friday came and went with no humming in the pipes. Another cold weekend.

Bob and Max crossed their hearts and hoped to die if we didn’t have heat on Monday.

Guess what? We didn’t. Bob couldn’t believe it.

Tuesday he rose at dawn and called the manufacturer and suddenly the monster in the cellar sniffled, then belched. Soon a divine warmth filled every room.

We are all comfortable now. And honestly, none of us ever got chilblains.

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