Lila Inspects the Fireplace, and Tells on Zipper

Each fall and winter, there are several things you need to do around the house.  If you do not have your heating system inspected, it will find a way to remind you.  One of the clever ways it uses is to just quit working.  That is what ours did.

The technician came out.  The framadama-therma-vent pump variable pressure thingy gadget that collects toxic fumes and re-routes them from your bedroom to the upper atmosphere needed to be cleaned, thumped and rattled a bit.  Then he held it in front of his face and blew on it a couple of times to show he knew what he was doing.

That was minimal, but at least it covered the cost of the service charge.  We got the system up and running, but something else seemed to be wrong.  The tech had a “premonition” about it (probably on his way over here).

The thermostat (which was originally installed during the paleolithic period) was not calibrated properly.  It was also lazy: if the house was not an iceberg or was not on fire, it didn’t think it needed to do anything.  Replacing it brought the bill up to what the technician considered a living wage, so we settled up, and he went on his way.

The very next day I could not find enough clothes to make myself compatible with this new thermostat’s opinion of the weather, so I called the HVAC man back out: I told him he was due a raise.  He rushed right over.  I met him in the driveway, because the sun was shining and it was warmer outside.  I heard him on his cell phone telling his wife to go buy a new car, then he came on in to inspect my furnace.

Well, guess what!  That framadama-therma-vent pump variable pressure thingy gadget had been refreshed, but its heart was weak.  It had struggled through the night, but sometime in the morning’s wee hours it had given up the ghost.  We held a brief service during which I called out to the mercy of The Deity in a way that caused the technician to close his eyes prayerfully.

Then, we baptized and blessed the replacement part.  The blessings, I’m sure, could’ve been heard two blocks away.  I haven’t “prayed” like that in years: the last time was while changing the water pump and timing chain on an old pickup truck I had.  It took at least fourteen verses of The Doxology and a pint of something to get that truck up and running again, and for my soul to feel cleansed.  To cleanse a soul any better, you’d have to use drain cleaner.

Well, the cost of the new furnace piece was something shy of my life savings, but that included labor, so I had him install it.  It seems fine right now, and I’m sure it will work ’til spring when the technician will return to clean out the air conditioning and the check book.

The heater went out at the beginning of a weekend, which is what they usually do.  Luckily, we have a fireplace.  In order to save the neighbor’s trees, some years back my wife had gas logs installed.  The gas flames gush forth with a lovely red and blue hue and put out a good bit of heat.  It has the pleasant ambient hissing sound to let you know the gas meter is working overtime.

Lila Bea had never heard or seen the gas logs in action before.  It was new to her, and she was curious.  But, she kept her distance as long as the fire was on.  Most dawgs  will not intentionally poke their head into a fire, and Lila didn’t, either.  Neither did Zipper, but they’d both sit there and look at it as if it were a preview of something wonderful about to happen.  I don’t want to give the fireplace too much credit here: those dawgs often look at me the same way.

With the heating system repaired and working, it was time to turn off the gas logs, and I did.  The fire went away instantly, but the heat associated with the fake logs and surrounding parts did not dissipate so quickly.  I left the room.

Some time later, Lila Bea came upstairs sporting a huge blister on her nose.  I guess she had discovered whatever it was she was looking for, and as a bonus, found out something entirely unexpected.  Dawgs do that sometimes, and so do other animals.

Back in the early 1970’s we had a pet pig named Hamlet.  One weekend, we took him for a drive in the country to visit his mama, and spend time with some of our friends.  We were staying in the home of an old roommate and his family, and were having a very nice time.  The plan was to have a fish fry outside.  A fire was built over a big ol’ black kettle filled with cooking oil.  Evidently, and to no real surprise, the smell of fresh fried fish and hush-puppies are as attractive to pigs as they are people.

Poor Hamlet stuck his nose right into the kettle before we could stop him.  Up until then, I’d always thought “bobbing for hush-puppies” and other fried foods was a joke.  Hamlet saw no joke in it, and his little door-stop nose peeled for weeks.

Lila Bea’s black button nose now has a permanent pink spot on it about the size of a butter pea.  She never complained about the burn, and I suspect she wears that special mark as proudly as some people wear tattoos.  Since she is a lady-dawg, I reckon pink is proper enough for cosmetic adornment.

Another chore in the winter is to consider your bedspread.  Brenda says ours was called a “comforter”.  When a bedspread is called a comforter it is because it brings great comfort to the retail establishment that sells it to you.  The comforter comes in a bag with accessories including more throw-pillows than you can shake a stick at.  You cannot keep all of those pillows on the bed because there would be no room for you to sleep!

Our old one was showing wear–the kind of wear and tear that dawg toenails can add to a soft fabric, so it was decided we should replace it.  We bought a new one.  It is very pretty which is of no benefit when you are asleep in the dark.  We gave the old one to the dawgs since before they had shown such affection for it.  Do they appreciate that?  No, they now prefer the new one.

We have agreed (somewhat) that the dawgs should stay off the new bedspread, and they do…as long as you stand over them with a broom handle.  Both dawgs have been guilty of sneaking in there when we are not looking.  But there is some satisfaction in noting that Lila understands that Zipper isn’t supposed to be up there.

Lila Bea will come to me if she needs to go outside.  She also seems to know when Zipper wants outside, and lets me know.  She comes to me if she wants water, and always lets me know when it is suppertime (often as much as three or four hours early).

If Zipper gets on the bed, Lila comes to me and tells on him.  She will lead me to the bedroom and point.  As soon as I call Zipper off and send him out of the room, Lila mounts the bed the very moment she thinks she can get away with it.  Neither of them ever show any remorse except for a slight sense of wishing they had not been caught.

I’ve studied this for a few days, and feel certain I shouldn’t muster any righteous indignation about it: people are no better–their morality being largely made up of whatever they can get away with, too.  The biggest difference between people and dawgs on this matter is that the dawgs don’t lie about it.  People lie about it all the time–especially if they’ve been laying on somebody’s bed when they shouldn’t.


21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Feldman on January 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    (from e-mail) I truly enjoy all your writings, stories, and ramblums, thanks for keepin’ me in the loop.


  2. I will verify that this story is true & not in the least exaggerated (like some of Van’s stories). This is our life, folks!


  3. Posted by Twodawgs on January 20, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Good’un Brown!


  4. Posted by David on January 21, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Excellent, but surely you can’t possibly imagine that we would be satisfied with one brief reference to your porcine pet, Hamlet. How about some more hawg stories?


  5. Posted by tlt on January 21, 2011 at 3:30 am

    like your writing style Van. Now if you could just get your politics straightened out…


  6. Posted by little d on January 21, 2011 at 7:26 am

    (From e-mail) Morning Van, there is always iron and music to found in your writings , and not the kind usually referred to as Heavy Metals either. Interesting to note too, that during your life you have spent some quality swine time, which most hue-mans have avoided I fear to keep their favorite barbecue from communicating on a meal oriented plane (not the same as the little cookies and peanuts planes commonly used for transportation). Thanks for affording me the thoughts of one who can…


  7. Posted by TP on January 21, 2011 at 7:28 am

    (From e-mail) One of my favorites!


  8. (From e-mail) Van,
    Thanks for the memories… One of ours went down too. You need to call big George, he lives on the south side and is a one man heating and air repair guy . He also repairs large units for (big stores), and he is very reasonable.


  9. Posted by Nadeen on January 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Van will never straighten out his politics. It is good that there are other reasons – such as his writing – for us to love him.


  10. Posted by ken vanzandt on January 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Thoroughly enjoyed discourse Our dogs seem the same. look forward to seeing you at the baptism. ken
    (and, From e-mail) Kenneth read it to me. Being dog lovers you know how much we enjoyed it. Our dogs have no thoughts of staying off the bed even when the covers are new or just laundered. See you soon. Ruthe


  11. Posted by Wayne Casasanta on January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    This is a great story, as usual. Unfortunately, your last sentance may be applicable to two-legged “dawgs,” who not only get burned, but also ignite the emotions of unsuspecting or suspecting spouses.


  12. Posted by Duane Pitts on January 22, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Well, folks, Van and Hamlet visited me and my folks outside of Moultrie, GA, and as reported, poor ole Hamlet burned his nose in the hot grease while trying to snag a hush puppy. Pigs know a good meal when they smell one.
    Yes, there are other Hamlet stories — the parade in Valdosta, the champagne I think it was that landed Hamlet in the bath tub in a near stroke, the beer guzzling that pig did — wow , the hiking of his leg amid the trailer park dawgs, etc. He was the leader of that dawg pack! All true and bona fide! I will attest to them all. Nothing is stranger than nonfiction, you know. (and from e-mail) Tell those pig stories, too. Hamlet was an amazing ham! I don’t think Hamlet will mind the truth finally coming out.


  13. Dogs, Dawgs, and “Them Dawgs” always make for good tales.


  14. Posted by Robin on January 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Great essay, and it really resonated as we had to replace our Dragon (affectionate name for burner and boiler installed (according to old peeling labels)about 1935. And a good thing, too, as it is now 13 degrees F. in Berwyn. It’s warmer in Santa Fe! And Santa Fe is up in the Rocky Mountains! We don’t have gas logs as back up, but do have a coal stove in the dining room. (I know coal pollutes, but at least it’s a domestic energy resource.) The cats, Cooper and MoMo, compete for the spot on the fire-proof rug in front of it. Cooper usually wins, as he is the Alpha, and don’t forget it! Oscar, Kate and Brett’s pug, contents himself with eating the kindling in the basket. For extra warmth, Oscar will sit in the kitchen with his butt pressed up against the oven door on the 1948 model of a Garland 6-burner, double oven stove. Kate and I are scared of lighting the thing, but it works well enough, and (even if we could afford a new one), we’d have to knock out the kitchen wall to remove it. Jay says we are being silly about it; this from a man who once singed his eyebrows and mustache getting the oven to light.


  15. Posted by Bonnie on January 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    As I have said before, you can’t make this stuff up!!


  16. Posted by Mickey Foster on January 24, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Dawgs are indeed intelligent creatures, they immediately recognize a new and unsoiled comforter. Horses, though wonderful creatures, are not quite as intelligent. I am sure that the dawgs, though unwelcomed, would hesitate to relieve themselves on a comforter, new or soiled. However, a horse will not hesitate to relieve himself or herself wherever. This is probably why most folks do not allow their horses inside their houses.A horse will not understand that the shavings in the new trailer are also new and unsoiled, and will, almost before the panel is latched in place, proceed to relieve himself- herself if you have a mare.Enough said, but I don’t think I have ever come across a horse that has bobbed for a hush puppy, though they do appreciate an apple every now and then.


  17. Posted by Cindy Goldberg on January 27, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Last year we replaced two heating systems and a cooling system. I think the heating & air business is a bigger joke than going to buy a car.

    It is 12 degrees outside, of course your heater picks this day to die. The forecast is cold weather for the next 3 months. The inside of your house is colder than the outdoors. Of course they know you are going to have to pay someone to get a new heater no matter the cost.

    Our dogs Samson and Kuna also feel that our bed is the best place to take a nap or eat your treat. My Mom, Sara makes us beautiful quilts and I have them covered with old sheets all of the time to protect them from the dogs. We really want a King sized bed so the dogs can have half of the bed and we can have the other. Of course, even though he complains about it, I think that Jeff really enjoys being woken up by Kuna every morning at 6 a.m. Wouldn’t you be happy if you woke up to all of those kisses!


  18. Posted by Marlene Humberd on February 28, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Poor Lila Bea and Hamlet ! Don’t like our critters to get boo-boos. Years ago , my father-in -law’s dog tangled with our cat .Even though Muffin was at least 5 x the cat’s size …D. S. Kitty won . Muffin’s pink nose forever looked like a pin-cushion , and just the sight of the cat would make her jump into the back of a moving pick- up . Our HVAC is right now living on borrowed time – installed it in’ 94, when we remodeled house . In fact, our technician last fall shook his head and said ” don’t know about making it through another hot summer. ” So it looks like our “adventure” for August anniversary will probably be a new unit …if it makes it that long . ‘Course the appliances were new then , too .May just have to sell some land….; )


    • Posted by Marlene Humberd on January 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      An update on my original post …HVAC made it til May 2012…may it rest in peace ! At least it didn’t croke in July of the hottest summer EVER ! LOL Appliances still are working , but the dishwasher is making strange noises that it never made before . Something like a cross between an elephant and a bulldozer …think the end is near . If I gotta go shopping for appliances , I’ll just do them all and be done with it . Anyone interested in a few acres with a mountain view… ; )


  19. Wonderful story! I don’t think there’s a day that doesn’t pass where at least one dawg in this house makes me laugh. My “lethal white” Aussie will make me laugh every day as his deafness and partial blindness makes him a happy-go-lucky goofball.


  20. Posted by Mickey Foster on January 28, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    I have lived more than 6 decades and darned near half of another….one of life’s questions has been answered…..the difference between a bedspread and a comforter has confused me. I had thought it was perhaps the amount of intricate needle point, or perhaps whether it was a plain fabric model or one stuffed with some exotic bird’s feathers. Price…a simple solution to a major unknown. I calculate that we live in a home that really doesn’t need a heater, but we do need a comforter. And, for sure I need to be comforted every now and then. I checked around the beds in our home, two bedspreads and 2 comforters…but, after checking the price one of the bedspreads falls in to the comforter status. That is comforting to know. I think I’ll go back outside and work on my tan….sunshine comforts me a lot, may even have a cold beer…that also comforts me, especially when I am thirsty…….


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