One of the many preachers in my family had a favorite story to illustrate God's Midwestern roll-up-Your-sleeves eye-on-the-sparrow all-up-in-your-daily-business attitude. It seems this preacher was dressing one morning, and upon fastening the collar of his shirt he did hear the voice of God Himself:
"Put a Band-Aid in your pocket," said God.
"But God!" argued the preacher. "Why? What could I possibly need with a Band-Aid?"
"Just put a Band-Aid in your pocket," said God. If it had been me speaking to one of my offspring, I might have tossed in a silent goddamnit, but in this case I guess it would be redundant. Or maybe God in His infinite post-Pentateuch patience is untroubled by constant belligerence. Anyway.
Dubiously did the preacher man tuck a Band-Aid into his shirt pocket, and off to the church he went to prepare the week's sermon. And sure enough, before the morning was out, why, he'd sliced his finger bloody on the very paper he used to type his sermon!
So there you have it. Proof that God speaks to us still, in the flat twang of the middle west.
* * * * *
It was either a similar divine guidance or just the good sense to realize that if every damn other thing in the house was tottering on its last legs, the furnace probably wasn't any different, that let me to set up a service appointment for the furnace. When we moved in it was February, and we assumed of course -- of course! -- the annual maintenance had already taken place. I hadn't got around to doing it before Christmas, and everything seemed to be working fine, but as soon as we pulled in from Virginia, I was on the phone to the HVAC people. The niggling fear that if something were to go wrong, it would go wrong so spectacularly and so inconveniently, drove me to take the next appointment even though I usually put off appointments as long as possible.
And wouldn't you know it, I was awfully glad for that Band-Aid in my pocket.
By now I'm used to workmen surfacing from the crawlspace bearing spiderwebs in their hair, shellshocked expressions, and alarming pictures on their iPhones. This guy came up with a capacitor that was incapacitated, a safety switch that literally crumbled to pieces on the table, and a picture of a blower fan that looked like it had been hauled up from a shipwreck.
The previous owners of the house evidently performed ZERO maintenance on that unit. For the past decade. I am shocked -- not at their general heedlessness, because by now I've been living with their every bad decision for almost a year -- but that the furnace was still working. And not on fire.
We got it all tuned up, and now the faint wheeze of warm air is a jet blast of hot air, so that's good. There's still the little problem of how to keep the warm air in, but reinsulating and adding a vapor barrier is on the Fall 2011 list, so we'll just have to wear slippers for another few months. It's not as good a story as the preacher-relative's, which does bring up certain thorny theological issues such as why didn't God just tell him to watch his thumbs around the legal-size, but if it keeps us from having a mini-Chernobyl in the crawlspace, I'll take it.