In The Cool Of The Night

Sometime Sunday afternoon, the furnace here became uncooperative.

During the winter, we generally keep the indoor temperature at about 68, adjusting the thermostat to account for the slight warming and frequent cooling trends outdoors. But around mid-afternoon Sunday, we realized the indoor temperature was dropping, and nudging the thermostat upward wasn’t having any effect.

Finally, in the early evening, when we pushed the red bar on the thermostat up to where it was (theoretically) calling for 80 degrees, the furnace kicked in and things got warmer. When the temperature got to about 70, we pulled the red bar down to that level. And the temperature started to drop.

We didn’t want to bother our landlord on a Sunday, so at about nine o’clock, we pushed the red bar up high again, let the place warm up, and then pulled the bar down, hoping it wouldn’t get too cool overnight.

When I got up Monday morning, it was 59 degrees in the house. I tinkered a moment with the furnace and the thermostat and got nowhere. So I put our space heater in the bathroom so the Texas Gal could take care of her morning routine in relative comfort, and after I got back from taking her to work – I do so on sub-zero mornings – I called our landlord and waited for a call back. As I waited, I managed to get the furnace going, and I did the red bar dance the rest of the morning.

It turns out that our landlord is out of the country. His wife called back around noon and said she’d called their furnace guy, and he’d be by around five. I let the temperature do the roller coaster through the afternoon, until Andy the furnace guy showed up. Andy quickly determined that a fan in the furnace needed replacing. He didn’t have a spare immediately at hand, but he said he’d find one by morning. He showed me how to get the furnace running manually if it ever quit responding to the red bar.

That evening, we got the temperature on the main floor to about 72 and then let it go for the night, relying on the space heater to warm the bathroom and the loft where we sleep. When we got up Tuesday, it was 50 degrees in the house, or perhaps colder; the thermometer on the thermostat only goes down to 50. I started the furnace manually, and it was maybe 60 degrees by the time Andy got here.

I pulled the space heater into the study, and as Andy worked on the furnace – replacing a circuit board as well as a fan – I put on a third shirt and shivered as I sat at the computer, periodically moving the space heater from one side of me to the other. Andy finished his work about noon, and I set the red bar at 75 and started the slow process of bringing the temperature back up to 68.

By the time we retired, we were comfortable. And we remained so through the night and on into the morning.

And though the tune that I dug out of the stacks would be more appropriate during summer than it is now, it’s hard to resist Ray Charles. So here Brother Ray’s 1967 theme from the movie In The Heat Of The Night. It went to No. 33 in the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 21 on the R&B chart.


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