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    A Cold Snap for Christmas

    So do you remember the last few days before Christmas of this past year when the temperature was frigid? This is the time that my van stopped working. No matter what Herman and Terry tried, the van wouldn’t start.

    In fact, I had to miss physical therapy one day because it was so cold that the van wouldn’t run at all. Herman laid a blanket across the engine, plugged in a light bulb under the hood for warmth, and even put a trickle charger on the battery, all to no avail. When it finally warmed up to 20F, the next day, the van very unhappily started complete with smoke, sputtering and threatening to quit at any moment.

    Herman left it running for about an hour, until the smoke cleared and the engine stopped chugging in labor. We then took it for a spin to our local store here in Caroga Lake, called Groom’s, and got a video and some gas treatment to clean out the pipes or whatever. Herman had already put dry gas in the day before in case there was any condensed water in the fuel lines. Ah, what we put up with here in the northeast.

    Herman’s daughter Hermanette came in from California for the holidays. The day she left Los Angeles, it was 80F there. She said that no matter how much clothing she puts on and no matter how much she tries to prepare herself for the cold here, it’s always a shock to her system. I’ve been here ten years now, and the cold still gets to me.

    We’ve had both the wood stove and gas stove going when it starts fluttering around zero. It still stays a bit chilly in the back of the house where we sleep and where the porch is, and we’ve had the added challenge of a stubborn pilot light on the gas fireplace that keeps going out.

    Pine Lake Stoves has been out here several times to try to correct the stove’s problems over the last few months. They even called their factory technical support to try to get the inside scoop on the problem. It’s a stumper. We like the service man, Bob, but don’t want to need to see him this often. As I sit here writing this now, he has replaced the thermocouple switch, which Herman tells me controls the pilot, and it is working better, but still occasionally shuts off.

    Thank goodness we have the wood stove, which we also got at Pine Lake Stoves and we have our reliable wood supply man Al Gessinger, who has made sure we stay well stocked up with wood. He, like Herman, works several different jobs to get by, and we’re glad one of those jobs is supplying our wood.

    So, hopefully the rest of the winter won’t be as cold as it was in December 2004. Think about it, we’re in the home stretch. I can hardly wait for it to be beach weather again.


    Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com