By D.J. Sweetenham


During this past week, our old heating system in the house had lasted about as long as anyone could expect it to. Our next door neighbor, Barry Park, suggested that we get a heating system expert friend of his to come in and check it out and, once again, I credit Barry with saving our lives. He’s a wonderful friend and I called his friend when he gave me the number. Charles Morgan is his name and he didn’t mind me calling him Chuck which I think is a great name. Anyway, Chuck examined the existing system and he said that there were severe cracks in the unit and a large hole even, which must be allowing bad gases back into the house. He stated that definitely he advised not to try using the heater again. All this was the result of my trying to get the heat going for the first time this Fall. When I went through the lighting routine and waited for the usual bump sound indicating ignition there had been a much louder than normal explosion under the house and the floor shook noticeably. I immediately turned everything off and called my go-to man, Barry. I called Chuck and left a message on his machine and he called me back the following day. We made arrangements to have a new system installed the next day and by 1:30 p.m. our new heater system was installed and running just fine and all the debris from the old set was cleared out of the crawl space, loaded onto Chuck’s truck ready for disposal. A very efficient operation and it was obvious that Chuck is a man who knows what he is doing and and keeps his word about doing it. I must admit to having a passing thought that he might do better in politics than some of the experts on T.V. Anyhow, it’s all over now and the house is comfortably warm again and I’ve returned the electric heater that Barry so kindly lent to us for a couple of days.

Of course, while Chuck and his helper were here I still had Duck duties to attend to and I had the pleasure of showing off my other family to the visitors. I wanted to show off some of the ducks eating out of my hands but when strangers are around they are a little bit shy, or nervous. But Chuck and his friend seemed to be quite impressed with my gang. I explained “How could anyone with a name like Donald not love ducks?”

This has been a rare week when I have had to move out of my comfort zone, i.e. Swan Lake. This entailed a trip to the Department of Driver Services in Locust Grove to get a new drivers license. This was the second time I had been there in just over a week. The first time, after standing around for fifteen minutes, a charming young lady came to the door and announced that there would be a delay as the computer system was down and they didn’t know when it would be up again. Not having a great deal of patience, I elected to go home again and to come back when they had their box of tricks fixed up and running. Millie led the way down I-75 in her car and I followed in her other car. We repeated the entire set-up this Thursday and everything worked out fine this time. I was certainly glad that Millie had taken the trouble to accompany me. I doubt sincerely that I could have found the place the second time on my own. But then I’m completely dumb when it comes to directions. Another good reason for Millie’s presence was, just inside the office door was a row of computers on one of which I was supposed to fill in all kinds of details. Millie took over and in just a couple of minutes she had it all done. I would have still been looking for the on switch. After we got the all clear from the computers, we had to sit and wait for a few minutes until being called to the service window where a very efficient young man helped me with the filling in of a form and taking my picture for the new license. It was all over in just a couple of minutes, it seemed, and I had been worrying that we would be there half the day at least. As it was I was back at Swan Lake and in the house by 9 a.m. the same day!

Well, that was my fun week. How was yours? I’ll have more on the ducks next time, I promise.

D.J. Sweetenham, originally from England, is the author of Bumps in the Road and Bumps in the Road - Part Two, highlights of his interesting and far-flung life. D.J., his wife, and their small dog, live in Stockbridge.