March 18, 2011

The Balloon and the Furnace

For Valentine's Day I bought two heart-shaped balloons from the Dollar Store. I bought a pink one for the Boogie and a red one for her daddy. I gave them to the Boogie and warned her to keep them away from this:

the uncovered furnace intake vent in our hallway. Like many small children, she is a bit fearful of things getting sucked into holes, and one trip under the intake with her balloon while the furnace was running caused her enough concern that she was sufficiently cautious to keep the balloons away from it.

Those Dollar Store balloons are pretty sturdy and last a long time. Those two floated around our house for a few weeks. The Boogie played with them a lot at first, and then they started to blend into the background and we got so used to seeing them that we really didn't see them anymore. They would hover for days in one corner or another and eventually ended up in the playroom. At some point every day I would look around to get a visual on them.

One night last week, though, I neglected to check for them before I went to bed. Around 6:30 the next morning the Phebis woke up to eat. While I was feeding her the furnace kicked on ... and it sounded funny. Sort of ... crinkly. Then the odd noise stopped. I finished feeding the baby and put her back to bed and went back to bed myself and after a while the furnace stopped running and I heard the crinkling noise again.

"Uh-oh," I thought. I got up and turned on the hall light and peered up into the furnace intake opening. I didn't see anything suspicious, but just to be sure I searched around for the two balloons. The red balloon was in the playroom. Hmm, strange. They were always together. Balloon buddies, as it were. I looked in every other room. No pink balloon. Oh, great. Just great.

But wait. Maybe it was my imagination? Maybe the pink balloon popped the day before, maybe while I was at work. Maybe it escaped out the front door and sailed away. Maybe the Boogie hid it somewhere. Maybe the crinkly noise was a coincidence, coming from a toy or something in the playroom.

I went back to bed. I tried to doze back off but I couldn't. I was waiting for the furnace to come back on.

When it finally did ... *crinkle crinkle crinkle*

Oh noooooo.

I got a chair and stood under the furnace intake. I reached up as far as I could (not very) but felt nothing. The crinkling noise stopped until the furnace quit running and then I heard it again. It was definitely coming from the vent.

I turned the thermostat down. I sent a text to Eric at work, but he is not supposed to have his phone on during working hours and I knew he probably wouldn't get my message until his next break.

I sent another text to FIL who called me right away.
"Can you see it?" he asked. I couldn't.
"Can you reach up into the vent?" he asked. I couldn't.
"I'll be right over," he said, "do you have a ladder?" I didn't. "I'll bring one," he said. Bless his heart.

There are many perks to living half a mile from your in-laws, one of which is that it only takes five minutes for your FIL to drive to your house when there is a pink heart-shaped balloon stuck in your furnace intake, and the temperature in your house is 64 degrees. Meanwhile I located some scissors and permanently deflated the red balloon.

The Boogie woke up right before her PopPop showed up. She was excited to see him and full of curiosity as to why he had a ladder. He climbed it and stuck his arm as far as he could into the intake vent. The vent itself goes up into the attic and travels several feet before descending to the furnace in the laundry room. He couldn't feel anything. He went into the laundry room and opened up the front of the furnace.

"Aha!" he said, pulling out a ribbon, "The balloon has arrived." He had to pull out the filter which thankfully had done its job, and he tugged and wriggled the balloon out. I was waiting with the scissors and stabbed it to death and buried it next to its buddy in the trash can while FIL replaced the furnace filter. Then I went straight to the thermostat and turned up the heat.

Praise the Lord the filter did its job.

Thank you, FIL, for coming to our rescue.

And I think this will be a good weekend to repaint the furnace intake vent cover so it can be installed. Until then, there will be no balloons in this house!


Rhonda said...

"And I think this will be a good weekend to repaint the furnace intake vent cover so it can be installed. Until then, there will be no balloons in this house!"

A wonderful idea!

Heather said...

I'm sorry to laugh at your misfortune, Rachel, but I laughed out loud reading this because it is simply the lot of all young mothers to have experiences like this I think!!