Making the Best of the Heat of the Moment

making the best of the heat of the moment - www.alliepottswrites.comDo you ever have those moments … the ones that make you realize everything you’ve done over the past several weeks if not months was preparing you for this one specific day or hour?

I had one of those moments recently.

To properly tell you about it though, I need to go back to this summer. We’d invited another family over and decided after the sun began to set, we’d send the kids upstairs where they could watch a movie while the adults continued to chat downstairs.

I escorted the kids to the top of the stairs where I walked into an invisible wall of sauna-like heat. It quickly became apparent that our heater had taken it upon itself to rise up and rebel against the shackles of its thermostatic-overlord’s imposed peace treaty and instead do battle against its arch-nemesis the air conditioning unit. When I’d walked into the fray, both climatic titans had been doing battle for some time, however, the AC was now in a state of retreat.

We shut the unit off and opened all the windows, hoping beyond hope that the artificially heated air could find its way to the greater outside. It was too much to hope for. The ninety-degree temperatures lasted much of the night, and well into the following morning.

We called an HVAC repairman who let us know that a wire had gone bad. A few moments later the AC was once again running as it should. I thought peace had returned. I was wrong.

Fall decided to cut its time with us short this year, hopping over to winter before the leaves could even finish changing their colors. My husband grumbled and moaned about it but after listening to the children and I complain about the chill he begrudgingly went to turn on the heat. Only the heat didn’t come on.

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How is it already November?

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A day passed. Warmer than the last. Then another day. The chill returned. After a few more days of the atmospheric roller coaster, I asked my husband when he’d scheduled the follow-up appointment with the repair service. I learned he hadn’t. Then it grew colder.

My doorbell rang, sending Her Royal Highness into a frenzy. It was the same technician as the one who’d serviced the unit in the summer (who was deathly afraid of dogs – which of course meant HRH wouldn’t leave him alone). He told me it had to be the thermostat. I questioned that as I’d noted the thermostat wasn’t getting power so thought there had to be another problem.

Then he told me it could be the control board on the furnace or maybe still the wiring. He could fix it, he said, but it would be a two-man job and so he’d have to come back another day – which could be a while as they were rather backed up at the moment with other job orders.

I reluctantly agreed and found a sweater. What other choice did I have?

The downside of working from home is the fact that you don’t have the benefit of escaping to another location when things like this happen. While my kids got to thaw at school during the day and my husband was able to work up a sweat running his business, I, on the other hand, spent the next several days trying to write while I huddled next to an ancient space heater.

The weekend arrived. We’d agreed to go camping with the kids’ scout troop back when we thought we’d still be experiencing a Fall this year. It was in the sixties when we arrived at the site and set up our tent. The sun began to set as the troop built up a fire. The temperature dropped. And dropped. And dropped some more.

It was cold enough to allow me to see my breath inside my tent as I burrowed deeper and deeper into my sleeping bag and still the night grew colder. The temperature inside my home, unpleasant as it was, was nothing compared to this. What had we been thinking, agreeing to go camping in mid-November?

But we survived the night and returned home with memories of s’mores, camp songs, and a new pack of dental floss (an award from a campout game), so it wasn’t all bad.

The house was still chilly when we returned home – but it was far better in comparison to what we’d just “slept” through. The technician came back – this time with help. Unfortunately, even with help, the overall the system was still broken. I soldiered on. After all, I’d been through worse.

That is not to say I gave up and accepted my lot. Instead, we called another service who actually managed to correct the problem, though it cost a little of the extra money I would have rather spent on Christmas gifts. However, ten minutes later, I heard the magical whirl of a fan coming back online as heat descended from the ceiling vent. It was glorious.

When I stood around the campfire that night, I’d joked with the other campers that our heat situation had helped acclimate my body to the cold – as if all the days of shivering by my computer were leading up to this moment. However, the hours that followed, proved me wrong. This story doesn’t end with me being able to grit my teeth and deal with larger adversity thanks to a series of trials leading up to this grand event.

No, instead, what I’ve realized is it’s not enough to deal with and work through unpleasant surprises. You also have to be able to keep yourself from settling for less, when it truly matters, even if that sometimes means starting over. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again, and each time it has gotten a little less scary. And that’s a thought that may just keep me warm for many more days to come. (Though finally having a working HVAC system sure helps too.)

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I’m fixing a hole

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Someone, please find me an iron torch and an epic hero. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Getting your novel ready for its grand debut is like battling a hydra. You make one correction, only to then discover the need for three more. I had grown somewhat obsessed over the last few weeks, a condition that has only gotten worse the closer I got to my launch date (which is next week by the way). I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night worried that there might be some aspect of the reading experience I could still improve.

The boys were taking their bath. Knowing they were occupied for the moment, I decided to sneak away to process yet another last-minute update. They’ll barely notice I am gone. After Lamont caught me in the act, I felt the need to explain what I was up to, and why. He wisely refrained from rolling his eyes. We’ve probably only had this same conversation a half a dozen times over the last month (I have the slight tendency to worry something to death). I was turning to go back to the boys when I saw it – a stream of water coming from the kitchen ceiling. Yes, it was raining out, but my kitchen is on the first floor. Considering we hadn’t recently installed an indoor water feature, there could be only one source.

LT. The boy is currently obsessed with volcanos and waterfalls. He likes the look of thing cascading downward. Sand. A glass of milk. An entire roll of toilet paper. He’s not picky. I must have left a cup within his reach once again (whatever happened to those good old days before he was mobile). I flew up the stairs, stopping at the bathroom door. Sure enough, you could almost make out waves and tidal patterns in the amount of water that covered the tile floor. (I’m a tad surprised NOAA wasn’t already there). I had only been gone a couple of minutes. Five tops! It takes the boy twenty minutes to eat half of a peanut butter sandwich, but he can cause trouble with amazing efficiency.

Ahhhh, children – such bringers of joy and destroyers of all things expensive to replace.

I looked to his brother, who immediately volunteered, “It was LT” as he scurried down the hall. Kiddo is a survivor. He takes after his father.

LT, on the other hand, happily continued to splash, as unconcerned about the pulsing vein in my forehead as he was about the stream flowing downstairs. Scooping our little future delinquent volcanologist out of the water, Lamont and I sent him to bed without a story (the worst punishment this writer could think of at the time – I have since come up with several other things that I would have liked to have done), before we set out to clean up the mess. Several soaked towels later, it occurred to us that we would also have to address the moisture in the space between floors. (Finding mold would make this a horror story)

So in the words of Paul McCartney and John Lennon

“I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go”

Bacon Apple Pie

My bacon apple pie: Warning – bacon has now been linked to cancer. Consider your day ruined.

As October closes, allow me to summarize. My coffee pot caught on fire, a mouse moved into my house, and there is now a gaping hole in my kitchen ceiling. Even so, I still love this time of year. The leaves are changing and autumn brews are back on the shelves along with other seasonal treats. Best of all, by writing this, I am now thinking of pie, Halloween, and Thanksgiving (but not Christmas – stay in December where you belong). I am finally not thinking about what else I could do to the book. It is time to stop worrying about the what ifs and get back to recognizing the what wills.

The water will dry, the mouse will take the bait, and I will enjoy some coffee. All the rest can wait.