Come on in. Would you like to see the new furnace?
Though such an invitation is uncommon, it's a very warm one at the Farm House at Posey Lake. While some folks want to show off a new painting, carpeting, sofa, landscaping, or even a bouncy puppy, my new household pride is in the old cellar.
In fact, I am so tickled over the petite heating and cooling element, I often scramble downstairs just to admire it. There is always an excuse to throw in a load of laundry or to check what's in the basement pantry, but the real reason is to make sure the furnace is still there and to ask myself, why did I wait so long?
Why do we procrastinate on things of importance in our homes? When we finally make the improvement, we wish we had done it years ago. Cost is one big reason, I am sure. The mess of tearing up the house is another factor that delays improvement. Then there comes the time when we are forced to make the change - we have no choice because we waited too long.
That is how the new furnace, which we will call Penny, came into the house to replace old Betsy.
Even though Dennis Lee judged that Old Betsy still had some life in her, it was time to replace the 40-year-old heating unit that had more than done her work for the old house. Mr. Lee owns His Servant Heating and Cooling, so named because he is a minister who preaches at the Freedom Church near Hillsdale, Mich.
Betsy was a giant oil furnace that is now in some scrapyard. I hope she will be turned into something beautiful and useful through recycling. The iron inner core weighed 350 pounds according to Mr. Lee; he and his son, Nate, carried it up the basement stairs.
Mr. Lee is the husband of Cheryl Lee, a former neighbor who, you may remember, is a champion bread baker to the degree that she buys wheat and grinds it into flour to make bread. How from-scratch is that? She has been selling her bread at the Mill in Onsted, Mich. Sons Nate and Gabriel give their dad a hand in his new business.
Word of Old Betsy's failing health came in February while I was nice and warm in southern Florida. Lucy Howe, caretaker of Geranium and Sullivan, the cats, called to say the house was cold. Betsy had given out one big belch, spraying the house with the stuff that comes only from an oil furnace. Should I come home from Florida to take care of the problem? Absolutely not. Call someone dependable. Therese Stump spent 60 hours cleaning the house, including washing all the walls, and Betsy was repaired temporarily.
I had known for a few years that Betsy was tired, and certainly the eruption of soot through the house was fair warning. It was a warning that kept me from turning on the furnace when I returned home on March 30. Despite the unseasonably cold spring, I managed with only the heat from the fireplace and a small heater until Mr. Lee and Penny arrived two weeks ago.
Penny is beautiful. The house is warm on cold nights and she is complete with air conditioner for the hot summer days that surely will come, won't they? That means my three window units are for sale. I sure won't miss them; nor will Mr. Ed miss carrying them from the basement to the second-floor bedrooms.
With the removal of Betsy, the basement has more space. Fred Hauch of the Lenawee Farm Bureau Oil Co., who has been hauling in the oil for the old furnace all these years, has agreed to remove the last delivery. Better yet, he will pay me $1.95 for each gallon (and he charged me $50 for draining it). That's one check I never expected to get. Let's see, $1.95 times 148 gallons - is that enough for a plane ticket?