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Lingering dialogue with the Goddess of Fire

Lingering dialogue with the Goddess of Fire
February 25, 2008 Mary Jo

This is where the Goddess of Fire lives. At least in our house. When she’s happy, she lights up all blue and vibrant and positively radiates heat. Which heats up the water in the pipes, which then travels to wherever we have summoned it: shower, kitchen sink, washing machine. And when she’s displeased, oh, there’s no glow, no radiating anything at all. And the water coming out of the tap is as frigid as when it left the depths of the earth, drawn upward through our pipes.

I’ve been gone from the blog for a few days, negotiating with this Goddess of Fire. All in one day, we found ourselves out of firewood, hot water, and had no oven. Well, we got more firewood, finally replaced our defunct oven, but the struggle continued with the hot water heater. I thought I had “fixed” it that first day. (i jiggled something and it magically lit)

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, when we first saw this house, we were THRILLED to see it had a tankless water heater. Pretty ‘green’ and efficient. And the previous owner spoke highly of the company who manufactured it some 15 years ago, a French company. Another plus – a good company, in Europe. (because tankless water heaters are the status quo there)

Normally, a problem like this would fall into the Husband category of our informal division of labor. But here I am home all day, with much more time and access to information. Theoretically, at least. And this project clearly presented the need for more info. A quick call to a local plumber confirmed our suspicions that this unit was rather obscure and would be costly (time consuming) for a plumber to fix. And we had the manual, a handy trouble-shooting guide, and some spare parts, so I decided to take the challenge. (I was also in the middle of booking a tropical vacation for us and was not going to let the unexpected expense of replacing a water heater get between me and my Piña Colada.)

So the aforementioned success with “jiggling” was short-lived. Next, I actually read the manual, did some rudimentary troubleshooting, and was able to replace an orifice, which was among the spare parts we inherited. That success lasted about 4 days. At that point, I decided to get out the big guns, and overnighted some obscure, shiny new parts to replace every component involved with lighting the pilot and (most importantly) keeping it lit. When they arrived, I not-so-patiently waited for naptime to arrive, so that I could try to do this without the “help” of Isadora.

Finally. With .pdf instruction sheets in hand, I formed my strategy and swiftly replaced each of the components. Not too shabby. Now, to light it… Oh! Some extra flames coming out of a joint that’s not supposed to be on fire! Turn gas off, disassemble, tighten joint. Except I seemed to, at that precise moment, experience a surprise surge of adrenaline (giving me super-human strength,) and inadvertently SNAPPED THE MISERABLE thing in two.

Perhaps, at 4:12 pm on February 22, you heard a SHRIEK followed by some brief sobbing, then swearing and wondered “what is that noise”? That was me. Right before I heard the telltale voice of a 2 year old that said she wasn’t napping, after all. And right before I made a shrieking phone call to the Husband to “COME HOME NOW. She’s AWAKE! And I just broke the *&%$#@^%$#@! and need to fix it and (here the shrieking intensifies) I’m greasy and disgusting and NEED A HOT SHOWER!

Luckily, I was able to salvage part of the non-shiny, old component to replace the one I had wrenched in two.

And by the time the Husband got home, we were fresh out of the shower, all sweet-smelling once again. I triumphantly took my super-hero cape and threw it in the wash (hot water!) so that it would be nice and clean for next time.

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