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Arsenic & Old Lady Teatime 2/3

Recently my grandmother was able to get financial help with getting a new heating system in her 130 year old house in which I live with her.  The old system was basically a kerosene-based system that heated through the stoves (we were able to keep the stoves for cooking, the heating section is now disabled).  The new system is baseboards and also required a new water heater.  As the house is fourteen rooms there are two thermostats, one on her side of the house, one on mine (a mutual kitchen door is our connector). 

It took about a month to install the baseboards in every room and get the new items for the cellar.  As the house is so old there was no room behind the walls to hide piping so it is visible.  Gram and I consider this a small price to pay for a more updated, safer and hopefully cheaper system. 

Right after the work was completed we had a cold front come in.  Gram was a wreck.  She had great difficulty with the thermostat.  “On, Off, Auto” and “Up, Down” must mean something very different in “old lady speak”.  The workers had set it for her but she, as it is her house, knows what’s best in her house, even if she doesn’t know what it is, she still knows what’s best because, it’s in her house. 

She’s going to be 89 June 12.  Wisdom of the ages in that gray covered skull; too bad she forgot it all.  At least she can go potty by herself, that’s all I really care about. 

She had called the heating company and they sent down a worker to check and make sure everything was really working correctly.  When I came home from work Gram told me what the worker had said, or at least what she could remember, and then asked me to explain it more, even though I hadn’t been there (where is a grandmother’s on, off, auto buttons). 

The next day I called the heating company to discuss what the worker had told my grandmother.  The system is new to me too so I didn’t want to blow Gram off just cause she’s old nor did I want to take for granted that I was working the system correctly (although “on, off auto” is pretty much self explanatory to me, but I’m not a grandmother).  Turns out I was correct on how to run the system. 


A few days later, on a Saturday morning, when I went bleary eyed into Gram’s side of the house to do my usual check her for a pulse ritual, she was just hanging up the phone, loudly.  She was mad.  Run on sentence mad.  Old lady on a rampage mad.  I finally got out of her that the heat was not coming on, she was freezing, she called the heating company to get someone over RIGHT NOW.  I checked the thermostat.  Sure enough, wonder woman with wrinkles had turned off the heating system instead of turning it to auto.  I fixed it.  Then I took her phone into my side of the house and called the heating company to cancel her request for help.  I blamed Gram’s on set of thermostat-induced senility.  The person at the heating company was very understanding.  They must have a grandmother whose stat impaired too. 

May 1, 2008

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