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Another of life’s mysteries solved

Posted: Thursday, Feb 13th, 2014




Valentine’s Day – another dreaded “first” for those of us who have suffered a loss.  My husband, Burt, was an incurable romantic and made a big deal out of every special occasion and many that were only important to us, such as always celebrating our “Month-aversary.”  His greeting cards to me were carefully chosen and never just signed with his name, but included a loving note in his exquisite penmanship. Consequently, I have saved every single greeting card all these years. OK, so that makes me an incurable romantic, too.

I was tempted to start looking at those cards, but knew I would only end up crying and feeling sad.  This is why the word “choice” was invented. We all have choices, and mine (at least for this year) was choosing to not end up wallowing in a puddle of tears.

So I’m shifting gears to share with you a recent happening that continues to break me up – in laughter.  I call this story “The Great Furnace Mystery,” and there are nine or 10 friends reading this right now who will shake their heads in disbelief.

The mystery started about the time the recent and unusual bitter cold snap hit the Northwest, along with several inches of snow here on the coast.  I prefer a cool house, but icicles hanging from one’s nose is ridiculous, so I started running the furnace more often than usual. When it came on, you could hear this strange noise, like punching your fist into a partially inflated paper bag. Of course, I worried that something was wrong with our heating system, but before getting a professional out here, I recruited friends who made the mistake of showing up for various other reasons.  After walking around listening and frowning, none of them had a clue as to what the weird noise was or where it was coming from.  It wasn’t consistent and seemed to move about like a playful ghost. As two of my guy friends left the house, they suggested I should probably call a heating company. Well, being a stubborn Scandinavian, I like to take my time with such major decisions – so I opted to stop using the furnace, put on layers of sweats and curl up under blankets in my lazy girl chair, thinking, pondering and determined to try figuring it out myself. 

That’s when my eyes focused on the bunch of helium balloons my friend, Brett Quick, gave me for my Jan. 1 birthday. Those balloons have lost much of their helium and look pretty pathetic all clustered in a clump on the sofa, but they make me smile, and I’m still too emotionally fragile to get rid of anything that makes me smile. However, something was different about those balloons (still tied together) on the sofa.  One of the original eight was missing.  I crawled out from under my blankets, turned off the TV, turned on the thermostat and listened for the mysterious “whoosh” sound.  Yep, there it was, this time from over my head. I raced upstairs and peered up at the air vents in the ceiling.  What to my wondering eyes should appear but the delinquent balloon, happily hugging a large vent like they were old friends.  I burst out laughing.  His (his?) string was still hanging, so I took him downstairs and tied him back with the original eight, putting an end to his drifting around upstairs from vent to vent, which he obviously had been doing. 

The freezing weather has ended for now, and when I do turn the furnace on it behaves in its old normal way.  I was so tempted to call all those people who tried to solve the mysterious noise, but figured it would be more fun to let them read about it in this column. 

Happy Valentine’s Day folks, and in case you are wondering, the birthday balloons are still on the sofa.  I’ll give them up when I’m good and ready.

Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her cat, Lap Sitter. Bobbie can be contacted at bobbisbeat@aol.com

For the complete article see the 02-14-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-14-2014 paper.


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