Friday, December 22, 2006

...As We Sit by the Fire

Last year we finally replaced our boiler. It was about the size of an elevator. But we nudged it along for 19 years. When the service guy started laughing when he saw it, we knew it was time; also we feared it would die during a cold snap. The whole bill was around $10,000. Ugh. And when we were done, what did we have? A new boiler. Since the old one never actually stopped working, it was hard to get excited about this. Our heating bills didn't even go down, because while the new boiler was more efficient, the cost of fuel shot up enormously in 2005.

While the workers were fiddling with the gas line, my husband had a bright idea. "Could you attach it to the fireplace so we can install a gas fireplace?" They indeed worked at it a few hours and voila! Time to run over to the fireplace store. It was surreal - in June, an entire store full of freestanding fireplaces, all blazing away. You choose according to the size of the flame, and you can pick if you want connected controls or remote. Beats being a boy scout. Our flue had never drawn properly so when we'd had wood fires, the room got smoky and it actually sucked the heat out of the room. Now we magically have a fireplace which does not even need venting.

This all cost about $1000. I love it. We only turn on the fireplace when we have company; it is a wonderful, cozy, beautiful focus. Our teenage daughter started to gather her friends in our living room, and it was a joy to walk in and see them reading poetry or singing folksongs. It warms up the room very nicely (important when we have guests since we keep the house at 62 degrees!), and every time I turn it on I am so excited and tickled to have it.

We needed to do the boiler, but the fireplace was a luxury. I pay careful attention to which luxuries give real value, and which don't do much for me and are not worth it. This was worth it.
Having our old non-functional fireplace counted on our standard of living index, as A House with a Fireplace. Installing the gas insert added to our actual quality of life.

Which luxuries have added to your quality of life? Which have disappointed?

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