Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pre Christmas Adventure

Friday, Dec. 18th found me on my way back to our new home with a car loaded with things the movers couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t take. Like all the house plants. Which was primarily the reason for my going back to NC the Sunday prior. That and a few other tasks, like cleaning the oven, cleaning the fridge, scouring the kitchen floor, scouring the sunporch floor, raking the ditch leaves, picking up sticks and setting fire to the pile that’s been sitting there for three months. Plus going to the skin doc and the chiropractor. And I even managed to get in a game of tennis.

The heat in the house was not acting right. Had noticed it before we left but tried to believe it was just my imagination. I’ve never known heat pumps to produce much heat to begin with so it’s difficult to determine when they’re not. But after a couple of nights on the air mattress on the floor and feeling cold air blowing on my head all night long, and the unit never shutting off, I opined that, yes, something was definitely not right. I was hoping it was just a thermostat problem.

Wednesday I had a plumber over to fix the hot water faucet to the washing machine. When the movers took the unit out, the hot water tap kept dripping. Fortunately the entire valve didn’t have to be replaced, just the washer. And he did both.

Thursday the heating guy came over. Nope, not a simple thermostat problem. An expansion valve problem. Which means they have to order the part. Which means the heat will be on emergency until then. Which means we’ll be running off the heat strips and it’ll be costing an electric fortune. Think I’ll invest in Duke Power. He sets the system to ‘emergency’ and leaves. I notice after a while that it’s still not getting any toastier in the house. I call Waldrop. “Uh, it doesn’t seem to be getting any warmer.” “Well, give it a half an hour and if it’s still not warm call us back,” came the reply. It had already been about an hour, but I did as told.

Half an hour later the thermostat indicates the temperature has DROPPED a degree. I call again. The guy who came originally has gone home. A new one is sent out. He arrives about an hour later. Is in the basement a LONG time studying the unit. Then comes upstairs and looks at the thermostat. He determines that whomever put the thermostat in didn’t hook it up so that it could use the emergency setting. How is this possible? Who knows. Anyway, we chatted at the folding bridge table in the kitchen until he was satisfied that there WAS heat coming out of the vents. He said they’d let me know about the part and how much it would cost the next day. That night I got a cold.

Snow was predicted for the next day, Friday. It was coming up from the coast and expected to get worse throughout the day and into Sat. Especially in the higher mountain regions which was exactly where I was heading. I really didn’t want to spend two more nights on an air mattress on the floor. Husband and friend advised me not to leave. I left anyway. I’ve always enjoyed an adventure. HA!

It’s normally a four hour trip. But because of a rock slide on I 40, one has to go all the way up North to Johnson City on I 26, and then take I 81 South to re-connect with I 40 to get into Knoxville. Which takes another hour.

North of Asheville the road gets worse and worse. Somewhere after Johnson City everything came to a standstill. Two hours later there was a little movement and I managed to sneak my way ahead. People of this region just don’t know how to drive in this stuff. Cars were in the ditch on the left and off the road on the right. Finally managed with a great sigh of relief to get to an exit and a convenience store bathroom. I think it was then around 6 pm. I’d left at 12:30. Some other stragglers came in. They had been stuck for SIX HOURS. I was lucky with my two. Talked to more people as they came in. The highway ahead was a parking lot. A local cop came in. He said there was a jack-knifed tractor trailer up ahead. How long before he thought it would be cleared? His guess was at least three hours. Called husband. I gave him the info. Told him I’d keep him posted.

Went off to find something to eat. Burger King had just closed. There was a grocery store open, Food City, I was told. The road was ice and slush. The plows must have all been on the highways. Managed to slip and slide my way into the parking lot. They had a deli, which was closed, but had some tables and chairs at which to sit. I had brought some sliced ham in a cooler, bought a loaf of bread and made a sandwich. Most of the pre-packed warm food had already disappeared, like the rotisserie chicken, etc. There were a couple of salads left, which were unappealing. I kept inquiring about the roads. The local state trooper was of little help. He didn’t know how he was gonna get home himself.

There are no motels in Gray, TN. If I had stopped in Johnson City, I probably would have been nice and snug by now. Food City closed at midnight. I managed to get my car over to their gas pumps where there was an overhang. At least I’d be out of the way of the plow which was attempting poorly to plow the lot. And the overhang would keep the snow off my windshield so I wouldn’t have to scrape it. My cold was in full bloom. It was 28 degree out. Christmas music was coming out of the speakers around the pumps.

I listened to this music for six hours. Every half hour I turned on the car to get some heat so the plants wouldn’t freeze. I nibbled on peanuts and carrots and drank Dr. Pepper. But not much, because I didn’t want to have to get out my sheinal (a woman’s urinal) which I’ve learned to carry in the car. It’s not the easiest of items to use under spacious conditions (like in a tent). When you’re behind a steering wheel and have on long underwear...let’s just say it’d be better to HOLD IT!

My poor husband was so worried. At 6 am the store re-opened. I walked across the lot ‘cause I was afraid that I’d get stuck if I tried to drive. The plowing job was a joke. One of the gals had crossed over the freeway on her way to work and said it looked like there was one lane open and cars were moving. I had a cup of coffee. “What time does dawn arrive,” I queried one fellow. “Around 7:15,” he said. God. Another hour and a half to go. I didn’t want to attempt leaving until I could at least see the road ahead.

Finally things started to lighten up. Still snowing and grey, but it was now or never. Grabbed another cup of coffee and a banana and prayed that I’d managed to get out of the parking lot.

I did. I was two exits from I 81. Within that stretch of road there were over 100 cars on either side. They looked like tinker toys. Seven in a row on the right, four on the left, then more...and more...and more. What happened to all those people I wondered? And how long will it take to haul their cars out.

The snow continued until Knoxville, where it became a sleety rain. I got more coffee. I was getting mighty sleepy. As the elevation rose in the Highland area it turned back to snow. It seemed like an endless drive. Took four hours. I finally pulled into the driveway at 11:30 am. And walked into husbands arms. Then unloaded the car, took a shower and crashed ‘til 6 pm.

The heating company did not call. We had to call them. Estimate is $650. The heat in our new home I noticed was acting similarly to that at Tranquil Lane. Naw - can’t be. But...why is there cold air blowing in the bedroom? Get a heating guy over the 22nd. There’s a problem with the defrost board. Need to order a new one. Fortunately it’s still under warranty. Unfortunately we’ll now be running off the emergency heat strips in this house too. And being Christmas week, the part won’t be ordered ‘til next week. Now gonna also invest in Upper Cumberland Electric. My portfolio will be overloaded in the energy sector......

But the cows are back in the back field. And that’s what really matters.


Dan said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Are you kidding me? I can't believe all of the trouble you had to go through. I wish I would have known and could have done something. Yes, everywhere BUT Knoxville got snow that weekend. It was funny. They were predicting this horrible storm and we didn't see anything but rain. Yet EVERYWHERE around us was snowed in. I hope Rand didn't say "I told you so." when you got there... LOL. At any rate, I am GLAD you finally made it in one piece. But dumbfounded at the heating problems you are having at both houses. I hope you get Tranquil Lane sold SOON so you don't have to fuss with it anymore! Miss ya!

Giulia said...

Heating man came over today to Mackie to put in the new defrost board. I had to go out to meet a new doc to get some antibiotics to kill this sinus infection that has been hanging on since the overnight in the car. Putting in the unit was supposed to take an hour. I came back 3 1/2 hrs. later and he was just leaving???!!! Some guy in their company wired the old board wrong 8 mos ago. He's coming back tomorrow with the owner of the company to try to get the schematic right. Geez Louiz. There is no end in sight. But that's ok. The cows are still here, and that make almost anything worthwhile. At least until I'm sick of cow paddies....

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

You'll also find that along with the lack of skill driving in the snow in this region, many service providers are jacklegs. Our local locksmith also sells shoes. The electrician winterizes docks. Etc. No one does any of it very well. Obviously, your heating guys have second jobs putting in carpet or selling Tupperware or something, lol.

I love my woodstove. I'm dependent on no one. My heat pump is crap.

Anyway, Giulia! What a nightmare that was! I cannot believe you spent the night in the car! I'm surprised the cops didn't get the store to stay open for stranded folks.

As for the female urninal, I just got one. Haven't tried it yet. Can be tricky, huh?

Where'd you move? Why? E-mail me!

And lastly, we quit smoking.

Giulia said...


The trick with the sheinal is to place it VERY SECURELY. If you do, it's great.

Heating woes continue in both houses. A new blog on such shall be forthcoming. Ah the joys of home ownership. Both houses currently on emergency suck-up-the-electricity settings. There seems to be no end in sight.

Gail said...

I have been taught not to laugh at people's misfortune but you had me laughing.

We do have to laugh at times like these or would go mad.

I love the spider dialogue.

Giulia said...

Glad it gave you a chuckle. Speaking of spiders, I opened the little hatch that leads to the crawl space under the porch to look inside as I never had before. And what greeted me was one of those HUMONGOUS wolf spiders the size of my hand. Just perched as pretty as you please on a rafter two feet from my head. They were really neat in the Peter Ustinov narrated documentary I saw. They are REALLY SCARY in person. Don't think I'll be crawling under the house any time soon.