OFF THE CUFF

We Americans are notorious for taking things for granted that billions of people around the planet would consider luxuries.

Take for example our climate-controlled homes, most of which are equipped with some sort of system of heating and cooling. We turn up and down the temperature controls without giving much thought to what’s actually going on or feeling spontaneous appreciation for the comfort that’s being provided.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that; God has each of us where we are and we who have such amenities in our lives are lucky to have it that way. It’s something to be grateful for rather than feel guilty about.

But then, suddenly and without warning, something changes and that optimal comfort that’s typically there is gone. The man-made electronic device goes haywire or completely belly-up, and we’re left without that perfect climate inside our dwelling space.

It’s a tough spot to be in for someone who has become used to the opposite. Trust me, I know, because lately I seem to attract on-the-fritz furnace units.

The one in the house where my wife Wendy and I live has been acting up for a while now. Let’s just say it kind of works, but it doesn’t work properly by any means and can’t be counted on to deliver its bounty of atmospheric convenience.

We’ve had professionals look at it and I believe we’re closing in on a solution (or perhaps set of solutions) to get the contraption up and running normally again.

In the meantime, keeping Chez Davison warm during a classic Ozarks December cold spell has been a bit of a challenge (and for me, a fairly trying experience). But if you really break it all down, it has gone well, all things considered.

Our house seems to be pretty well sealed and insulated, our ventless propane fireplace yields a significant amount of heat, and let me say I have become a big fan of EdenPURE space heaters (you know, those box-like, fan-forced quartz units that sit quietly on the floor and work with amazing effectiveness). And if we really need them, we have comfy jackets and sweaters and plenty of thermal socks.

And oh, yeah, the satellite TV and Internet service are working fine.

Yep, it could be a lot worse. Wendy and I could be peasants in Siberia, living in a poorly insulated wooden shack with nothing but an 80-year-old pot-belly stove separating us and the minus-30 temperatures outside. We could be poor Sherpas living in the mountains of Tibet, staying as warm as possible at night in a tent while wrapped in a yak fur blanket.

But then again, we’re Americans and we’re used to that wall-mounted digital thermostat being our ticket to an ideal indoor climate. As such, I don’t want to go anywhere and be indoors for long where the temperature isn’t just right, because that’s what I’m used to.

Which brings me to the story of Faulty Furnace II. The workhorse unit in the newspaper office went south today.

It’s like a bad movie where the lead character can’t get away from climate control issues. The problem follows him wherever he goes to the point where he even ends up being blamed for causing the mysterious problems.

Of course, he rightfully claims innocence and begs for mercy from the townspeople, but is nonetheless banished to the scary old cabin on top of the ridge where old Doc Jones used to live, that is widely known as a place from which escape is improbable at best.

But I digress.

The bottom line is, we’re talking about mechanical equipment that was made by man and is therefore imperfect from the get-go. It’s born to break, but can be fixed, too (or, ugh, replaced).

Anyway, I’m thankful to live in a land of heating and cooling and I can’t wait till the former is a standard part of my daily indoor existence. Then I’ll hope to not have to go through a similar set of circumstances.

But if I do, I’ll be well aware that a sovereign God not only put me in the land of heating and cooling without any measure of deserving, but that any temporary lull in artificial warmth is also part of His plan. And of course, so would any subsequent return of the heat.

As Job is quoted in the Bible as saying, the Lord gives and takes away. That goes for everything, even a working furnace.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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