Absolutley Positively

Last night, lying in the bath I swore that when the furnace guys came back today I would be more positive, and I am. 

I am positive that this sucks.  Today’s contribution to the experience is not just unexpected work or financial outlay (we’ve adjusted to that) but the fact that the old furnace needs to be removed and severed into pieces small enough to exit the house.  This is done with some kind of really, really big saw that isn’t just loud enough to shake the house, but is so unspeakably loud that I am actually worried that it might shake some of the fillings out of my teeth.  It is a noise so loud that even though my intellectual self is not frightened, my emotional self simply can’t be convinced that I am not having an emergency. The result of this is that I alternately sit here knitting and being just fine (other than the fears for my dental work) and then periodically have to breathe deeply to avoid the urge to run screaming from the house because the part of my brain that’s pretty darn primitive can’t be convinced that a noise that big doesn’t mean that I should run for my life before the herd of robotic evil T-rex’s bursts out of the basement, murderous bloodlust in their LED eyes.   (Yes, I do think that robotic T-rex’s would be worse.  Don’t you?) 

An additional element of crazy is introduced if you go and look to make sure that there are no robotic T-rex’s because the big saw that they are using  (by they, I mean Greg and James. Nice guys. We’re becoming very close) actually makes huge sparks that light up the basement.  (They also set off all of my smoke alarms, which is another nuance of the entire effect.  I was afraid that all this noise would damage my hearing, now I’m hoping it will.)

Finally, while this is the one part that I cannot hope to convey to you in any sort of realistic way… there is a smell.  The smell of rotten eggs (residue in the old gas pipes, apparently) burning hair and dust (that would be from the burning hair and dust within the old furnace, ignited by the saw) musty damp soil (that’s from the digging) acid, chemical smells (primer and glues from the new ducts) and the unmistakable smell of charred camel dung with notes of rubber cement, four day old un-refrigerated salad greens, and the vaguest whiff of sulphur and cattle. (I have no idea where that comes from.  I have terrible suspicions, considering the big animal bones that were revealed when the digging started – a little reminder that this used to be farmland.)  I wish, more than I can tell you, that this blog had a scratch and sniff so that I could share this with you, in even a minor, unrepeatable way.  (Greg and James assure me that it will all be fine. They also assure me it doesn’t smell that bad, which makes me think that what I was hoping would happen to my hearing has taken out their sense of smell.)

Still (positive, be positive) things are going forward, and the noise, smell, dirt and fear are all wonderful indicators that these people are going to be finished soon and that makes me unreasonably happy. As of this writing, my antique, much beloved, never missed a day, worked when the power was out furnace has been hacked to bits and sent forth from this place and before it left it gave back a final gift.

Sam’s once cherished "blue tiny baby", which accidentally went down a hall vent when she was three years old and prompted two full days of heartbroken sobbing.  (Her, not me.) I’d forgotten it was gone until they split the furnace open way down in the basement,  and there, in the bottom of the cold air return, was blue tiny baby, along with all the memories of how we were parted, and how hard we tried to get it back.
I can’t wait for Sam to get home from school.

264 thoughts on “Absolutley Positively

  1. The story of the lost toy is incredible and adorable. Congratulations on her retrival!

  2. the blue tiny baby thing is SO COOL! I wish I could see Sam;sface when she sees it. (but not be in your house to actually smell what you are smelling. And hearing. Oy. good luck with that.

  3. What a blast from the past…my niece Claire had the exact same blue tiny baby, and it was her very favourite, and when it got lost (as it did on a monotonously regular basis) she was inconsolable until it returned. She’s 15 now and I wonder whatever became of blue tiny baby? We should check my sister’s vents…
    As for you, my dear Harlot, I seriously hope you and all other occupants of the house are protecting your hearing. Hearing damage is a serious business. Either get some good earplugs or go very very far away until the noise stops. (Sorry. Can’t help with the smell. I just hope it doesn’t soak into the bison fiber.) Have a drink or three, dear, and remember that this too shall pass!

  4. Blue Tiny Baby and the surrounding story are, in a word, awesome.
    If I could send wine or hard liquor, I would. Fingers crossed for a quick finish.

  5. I so desperately want to see a picture of Sam’s face when she first catches sight of her blue tiny baby.
    Glad you were given the gift of some joy in the midst of the chaos.

  6. Awwww – Sam will be so pleased! One unexpected pleasure from all of this pain. Chin up – this soon will pass and become a part of the wonderful memories of Mr. Washie, getting the stove in place, doing over the bedroom…. I have enjoyed all the details – I am in BC – too far away to hear the screams of anguish but I can relate – had a lovely old house once. Learned to avoid saying “Hmm – I wonder what’s under here…”

  7. Ahhh…The blue tiny baby…We also lost one of those…Why are small children unnaturally attached to the blue tiny baby???? My daughter also cried and we looked everywhere to no avail for the blue tiny baby…I am glad Sam and her baby are reunited…It is a story of the hope of finding lost things for us all :)

  8. I’m sorry, but the robotic evil T-Rex’s are making me giggle hysterically. At least be comforted by the fact that your furnace guys look like nice handymen, not the creepy kind that came to fix my dripping window once. Having lived through some major renovations (and having taken part in most of those), you have my sympathies, and I hope everything goes back to normal soon.

  9. Hi, long-term lurker here. Just wanted to shed a little glitter on your day. I’m not a knitter, but have been really stressed lately. After years of reading your blog and wondering whether I should give this knitting thing a go, I read the other day’s post about knitting as a stress-management tool and thought, “ok, I’m going for it.” So I got a friend to show me how and am now almost done with my first hat. It is lovely, soft, and a FANTASTIC way to de-stress. Thanks, Steph. Good luck with your monsterific home renovation project. I’ll send you good juju as I knit in peace down here in Texas.
    P.S. love the little blue baby doll part of the story. that’s great!

  10. Thinking of you & loving the story Blue-Tiny-Baby Found!
    As your physician, I am prescribing beer and cashmere and chocolate and earplugs.
    Repeat as necessary until repairs subside.

  11. Bless those workers for saving the doll – it so easily could have been tossed out with the furnace. (I’m sure they could tell many tales about some of the odd things they’ve found.) But the smell — I hope Toronto gets some of our (Detroit) warm-ish weather so you can air the place out without freezing.

  12. Congratulations on the retrieval!!!!! now get out of there!! Your hearing is not worth supervising this, as the two excellent young men will (probably) not damage anything beyond recall, and it is to be hoped that they have ear protectors. You *will* find this amusing several turns from now–I expect to see it properly dissected in a future book. For now, quiviut in hand, exeunt nobly!! (is there a chance I spelled exeunt right? no way) Surgery is sometimes the only way. Perhaps a spell of kel-no-ri elsewhere??

  13. I have a question. Why aren’t you at the pub or the coffee shop while this is all going on? Or sitting in your car at a park. Or, heaven forbid, sitting in a yarn shop.

  14. You are not giving me good vibes for when our ancient, 94 years-old, cast-iron, asbestos-covered monster of a boiler that is about 6 feet around and 5 1/2 feet tall will be replaced next summer. We won’t be getting new ducts (we have radient hot-water heat and it will stay that way) but these stories are scaring me.

  15. Wow! I rush home from where ever I am to make sure the house (that would be your house) is still standing and occupants still somewhat conscious. Maybe it would be better if you weren’t after reading about the aromatic dying gasps of the furnace. And the, the return of that tiny little doll! You are a master at finding joy in the trials of every day life, and one of the most honest writers I read.
    Thank you for sharing your world.
    Eve from Carlisle

  16. I know the noise! We went through the same thing with we replaced our monster electric furnace to a gas one. They had to cut it into pieces to get it out.
    When I was small we lived in an old farm house — we when moved to town, my mom took along a square nail from the house as a reminder to herself to never buy a house that has square nails.

  17. I have a very large jackhammer drilling in my driveway and making it very difficult to work in my home office. Always looking for the bright side, I no am comforted that they are not IN my house and that the farther aay I move from my office, the more the noise dissipates. I hope your new furnace is installed soon!

  18. oy to the poodles already! Hope that the look on Sam’s face as she rediscovers her old friend makes up for Some (and I do mean Some) of what you’re going through. Hope your day (and knitting) goes well.

  19. Ok, blue tiny baby recovery was totally worth it!! We had our behemoth gas converted from oil furnace removed a few years ago when it finally gave up the ghost. Before bringing in the acetylene torches and evil saw from Hades the workers carefully explained that the house had been build around the furnace. That is, the furnace had been lowered into the basement cavity before the floors and walls of the house had been built. And, unless I wanted them to dismantle the house, they would need to cut apart the furnace. Unfortunately, no tiny blue baby made an appearance. I do remember, however, that when I was a child and I was punished by being forced to kneel in the corner next to the heat vent from the gravity furnace, I used to melt crayons into the charming grate–that looked a lot like yours. You might want to check the liners of the old hot air shafts to check for melted crayons. Trust me, it was a lot of fun watching those crayons melt!!!

  20. So.. How many knitting needles/tape measures/pairs of scissors have they turned up in the process of the whole furnace thing??

  21. Blue tiny baby :) She will be so happy!
    Someday I hope to find little brown dog, who my son lost when he was 4 (he is now 9). I keep expecting that someday I will open a box and there he will be. It always surprises me how many memories are wrapped with these favorite toys.

  22. I’ve lived in a 100 year old house in Minneapolis and we had to replace the boiler among other things. I know exactly what you are going through. Those builders from the past could be very creative. Unfortunately. But its nothing some knitting, a drink and an open check book cant fix. Perhaps finding Tiny Blue Baby means your luck has turned. Good Luck!

  23. Oh man- I’m not that emotional usually, but as the mom of 3 younguns, blue tiny baby made me feel all verklempt. It’s a banner day at your house! (Albeit 20 years too late.)

  24. Welcome back blue tiny baby! (What a nice end to what was sounding like a pretty dismal post. I do hope the fillings in your teeth stay put. May I suggest earplugs? We do like to keep our hearing. )

  25. This is starting to resemble an epic myth of the Homerian variety. Something very timeless about that blue tiny baby. Unlike LauraSue, I am certain Sam will remember it. I think she might cry when she sees it, in fact.

  26. You have my virtual sympathies…..
    In our renovation life is continuing onwards, the demo portion is done…..the wiring gremlins are getting straightened out. Did you know that a microwave shouldn’t be on the same circut as your bathroom…..it was news to me and slightly shocking that it was!!!
    You are a very brave women for toughing that out, I would be hiding at my local coffee shop, or perhaps LYS…..or perhaps local pub might be the best option ever!!!! Cheers to more beers!!!

  27. I love how good and bad can exist together, don’t you!
    Have you tried something in/over your ears? Then it would just be the shaking. And speaking of shaking, how is that foundation?

  28. You do realize that it will not be a robot T-Rex that comes from your basement, but that they are building a Cyberman Augmentation Station in your basement. I would be worried about waking up to Sam and Joe being turned into Cybermen.

  29. Please, please you must update tomorrow to tell us how Sam reacted to the return of Tiny Blue Baby! Please!

  30. The blue tiny baby found,your daughter will be so happy!
    Are they using a sawsall? My husband loves his, he had to use it last weekend to put a new window in. Cuts through anything but makes a racket.
    Keep saying to yourself “this too shall pass”!

  31. Heh. The car keys to “Old Blue,” the 1964 Chrysler New Yorker, never were found after being dropped down the air vent. This includes replacing the furnace and purposely dismantling the specific run in order to check. My sister was 3 at the time (she’s now in her 40s) and none of us siblings have forgotten the upheaval the loss of those keys caused.

  32. Some of those squishy orange earplugs that mold themselves to the inside of your ear so even a nuclear explosion would sound like a mere thud. Those would help. I’m really curious if the guys found any knitting needles, scissors or tape measures down there in the cold air return.

  33. There’s always a silver lining (doll) and, this too shall pass (wisdom from my long departed mother).

  34. Deja vu-vu. I have been through the very same experience, and fortunately have some very good news for you. Carbon monoxide (in infinitesimal, non-fatal amounts, of course) will be a thing of the past. The heat will come on in a jiffy. Finally, your basement won’t be quite as scary to small children as it used to be. Which seems hard to believe while you are going through the process of replacing the furnace. But you are rounding the corner to better days. Good luck!

  35. I’m with LauraSue – if Sam doesn’t remember TBB I hope she decides to lie — fast and convincingly.

  36. {{{{{{{{{{{{{Steph}}}}}}}}}}}} Oh MY!! I have long envied you your gravity furnace; one of my concerns is staying warm during the kind of blizzard that takes out the electricity here in Kansas… but seeing what you’re going through, I guess I’m glad they took the gravity furnace out of this house long before we bought it last year.
    My utter sympathy on your bricks. Our 90 year old house also has foundation…um…issues… that have caused the outer brick wall to start falling down for what is evidently the third time, judging by evidence of previous repairs. We braced the basement, but repairing the wall itself has to wait until tax time when we get our refund. That means living all winter with plastic stapled and taped over the exposed windows and inner (structural) wall, oy. But hey–in case you need to know, Gorilla Tape will stick to rough brick walls. Dunno what it’ll do to the paint, but that wall needs rebuilt anyhow. *wry smile*

  37. Let us know if Sam remembers blue tiny baby. Because we found a very similar plastic toy (chubby red man was his name) that had been lost in the backyard. When we relandscaped and dug out dirt from the former site of a sand box, there was chubby red man. I was teary and nostalgic and couldn’t wait to show him to his former owner, my 25 yr old son. Guess what? Son was completely unimpressed and didn’t even remember his once loved toy! I still cried at the reunion.

  38. Is that baby cute!!! I would have wailed for days without end too, even as a (half-ways) grown up (do we really ever get there? Would we want to?). Adorable :-)
    And you have NO clue how much fun it is to USE one of those huge saws. If you ever get a chance to, give it a try, it is like RIDING the big robotic t-rex. Huge saws, angle grinders, arc welders, … great toys! I always wear hearing protection though, the noise is, uhm “special”.
    Take the laptop, find another nice cafe and come back when they’re done? Or turn your traumatic house experiences into free-form textile art? A little knitted t-rex to go with the baby?

  39. Very happy to her that Blue Tiny Baby has been returned to those who love her . . . also quite pleased that your blog does NOT have the scratch and sniff feature, given your description. What causes humans to want to share their awful smells?? “Ewww – this really stinks – here, you have to smell it!”

  40. How sweet that your wonderful old workhorse of a furnace kept “blue tiny baby” safe and sound all these years.

  41. How’s the bison helping? I totally understand the primitive fear reaction. I think I actually got my heart beating a tid bit faster imagining it.

  42. Oh! So sweet, that tiny blue baby. I just dropped a US 3/3.25 mm dpn down the vent the other day, and really have no hope of ever retrieving it. It was a good needle. There was no sobbing, but there were great huffs of indignation.
    I hope you can find peace as this big job is being finished. Then once it is finished, I hope you easily adjust to all the different sounds the new furnace will make.

  43. Ooh, ohh! I have a story to share this time, a story of how it could be worse!
    We “hired” some of those free scrap metal removal people to take an unused wood furnace out of our basement. I went outside with my knitting to avoid the noise.
    The next thing I know the guy is running up the stairs every 5 minutes, I asked his buddies why?
    Turns out their saw was powered by 3-1 fuel (like a chainsaw) not by electricity. He was giving himself CO poisoning and had filled my basement with exhaust as well as dust and that funny cut metal smell.
    When the fire department came with their big fans to air out our house the CO levels were so high they said they would check with the hospital to make sure he was ok (but when he left he said he wasn’t going to the hospital)
    Good news is that funny smell? It totally didn’t stick to my wool.

  44. Oh, I remember the terrible day when my son’s “little farmer man” came to grief at the teeth of a puppy. He was about the same age as when Sam lost her baby, and I very seriously considered trying to get a replacement little farmer man. So wonderful that Sam gets her blue tiny baby back! (sniffle sniffle)

  45. I’m hoping that in Canada you can sell the old furnace and parts for scrap metal like you can here in the States.

  46. the post is funny (as always) but the last part about the tiny blue baby = awesome :) I can’t wait to read about Sam’s reaction. It’s almost like opening up a mysterious time capsule. A wonderfully warm moment. Very cool Mrs. McPhee.

  47. Hang in there. We survived the dismantling of a similar monster, and it doubled the usable size of our basement! We found old shoes and some empty handblown bottles in the debris, and now sleep at night without nightmares of fires. I hope you too reach this blessed plain of peace and warmth… It was such a magnificent iron thing, though, with a wonderful mold of three owls on its breast and a mouth of fire–much more esthetically appealing than the new square steel box. I don’t miss the old flames, though, and neither does the cat, even tho that was the warmest place in the house. Good luck.

  48. Don’t put too much effort into the scratch and sniff blog upgrade because I really don’t think I want to share. Charred camel dung and rubber cement is best left to the imagination.
    No missing tape measures found down the ducting then?

  49. You have a wonderful gift for really conveying the essence of life — and with such lovely humour.
    Your post really resonated with me: namely that dust and noise and smells and chaos can really bring one’s emotional being to its knees (even when one knows rationally that it’s necessary). I thought I was being completely childish when I was rattled by the open walls and the mess and the … during our bathroom renovation some years ago. It’s why the bathroom is still not painted.
    Thanks for sharing. Here’s a quote which may be apt for your situation:
    In the midst of the chaos
    When the wind is howling I hear
    the ancient song
    Of the ones who went before
    And know that peace will come
    -Susan Stauter
    I pray that you are enveloped with peace soon and that your renovations go smoothly.

  50. Oh Stephanie, I am so glad you are keeping a good attitude. “Keep calm and carry on.” indeed! That little baby is so cute, and what a wonderful, unexpected treasure to find in all your chaos, noise, and odour. It’ll get better!

  51. Were you serious about the bones? That part sort of creeped me out.
    When we bought our house, a 1963 contemporary, we had the air ducts cleaned (big powerful vacuum type things). The cleaners told us stories of things they had found in other people’s air ducts (YUCK). The only thing of interest we found in ours was an empty pack of Marlboro cigarettes–old enough to not have a surgeon general warning on them! (had these ducts ever been cleaned, I think not). The cleaners told us they find the most junk in the newer houses–during the building process the construction workers often toss their lunch bags/wrappers/etc around and they end up in the vents (sometimes never to be seen again). Of course that just might be a bit better than the pertified rat mummies they sometimes find in the older homes–good times!

  52. @ kakaty
    Our boiler was similar and the removal was fairly painless and even somewhat melodic. They covered it with a big bag and hit it repeatedly with a sledgehammer. There was a vague smell of sour something and stale water.

  53. Good luck and hang in there. We just had to remove an old wood-fired furnace from the basement in my 100+ year old house. By “we” I mean my brother and friend. They were pulling it up a stone staircase with a pickup. Later my friend unloaded it with a backhoe and it flattened all the backhoe tires. Eventually it will all be over. I’m so glad you found blue tiny baby!

  54. Our furnace is finally being replaced next week.Luckily,I’ll be at work for the noise and dismantleing of said furnace(hubby gets to experience that)and I get to come home for the installation of the new beastie.And then I know Indian Summer will arrive and it will be 75 degrees for the next month.That sounds nice,actually…(Our wiring was apparently done be Escher as well.And the framing.Oh yeah,and the floors and the walls,too.Gotta love the original do-it-yourselfers.*sigh*)

  55. Let us know her reaction please! I miss my little Snoopy doll a lot. Unfortunately, I lost him on a road trip, so he’s probably somewhere in Arizona or California.
    Yay! What a cute blue tiny baby!

  56. The tiny blue baby is from the Fischer-Price mini-van that had an open roof so you could put mommy, daddy and blue baby (in its yellow car seat) into the car. My sons had it and I believe the baby is still in the crawl space! That brings back memories

  57. Blue Tiny Baby! That’s SO cool! Can’t wait to hear her reaction. :)
    As for the rest… it will be over soon and you will have a new, more efficient, working furnace. In the meantime, is it possible to go down to the coffee shop while they’re making noise, dust, smells, and sparks?
    Hang in there!

  58. Did you just cry when you saw that unearthed from the time machine in you basement? I’m tearing up picturing her reaction when she gets home!
    Having two small children and a house makes me take stock of what is precious to them from their childhood. I am a keeper & dh is a tosser. This discovery is a testament to sweet innocence, home and the thrill of rediscovering it all again!
    Bet you she sleeps with it tonight. I sure would.

  59. “unmistakable smell of charred camel dung with notes of rubber cement”
    should I be alarmed or impressed that you even know what this smells like? Or is it just a lucky guess?
    You bring back memories of my childhood too – we had these huge vents and I was constantly dropping stuff in them and then trying to get them back with long sticks with bits of tape on the ends.

  60. Hee! We had a similar story of toy-retrieval when we replaced our furnace (not as old or as scary as yours). Shortly after we moved to our house (I was 5, so it would have been 24 years ago), I was playing with my brother’s little Yoda figurine and his Orco action figure (from He-Man). Orco was one of those things where you use a zip-tie thingy that you pulled out and he would spin around. Well, I wanted Orco to spin, and the best place I found to do this was our furnace room, which had concrete flooring.
    Zip-spin-knock, and Yoda went flying back behind the furnace. No amount of exploring with a yard stick could unearth him. My brother was pretty mad.
    Until we replaced our furnace a couple of years back and– TA DA!! Yoda. A bit dusty, but otherwise fine. :D My bro was happy. Hopefully Sam will be, too.

  61. Oh, Blue Tiny Baby has me bawling like a baby – hope Sam is thrilled to have her back.
    I’m proud of you. I would have run screaming by now for sure:)

  62. although i in NO way or means want to go through what you are going through, i am convinced that many small, yet cherished items from my own offspring’s childhood suffered a similar fate to Blue Tiny Bsby. Although, on second thought…. i would go through quite alot to relocate the fork from the silver child’s cutlery service that i suspect is in the bowels of the furnace!

  63. Sam is going to be THRILLED!
    I’m really sorry about the rest of it, and hope that the new furnace really keeps you warm this winter!

  64. Oh My!! Sounds like the several projects around here except for the smell and the bones being as this house is somewhat newer and not on farmland. But the noise of removing a furnace, no matter what size or vintage, should be sold to the makers of horror movies…. hmmm… maybe a fundraiser for KWB???

  65. Thrilling that you found blue baby. And aren’t you feeling very wise and virtuous that you did this furnace thing in October as a planned project, rather than dealing with it in a blizzard?! You made that point earlier, and I was just remembering it, and thinking, “oh yeah!”

  66. Even with all the horror, the discovery of blue tiny baby almost seems worth it all, doesn’t it? Not that you should have gone to all this trouble back when Sam was 3, though…

  67. Progress can be miserable but the end result will be wonderful.
    If you need a place to stay while everything is happening, please know that you are welcome to stay at my apartment. I am gone most of the time so it is practically silent. I live near Green Bay so it isn’t that far away!

  68. This too shall come to pass, right? ugh.
    You can come to my house where it’s quiet – we’re all gone to work/school all day. Should be peaceful here, I think? Smells ok too. lol

  69. Am thinking about you and know you will get through this. I have never seen a blue baby doll before. But Sam will be so happy and relieved that she was there all the time!
    Hang in there!

  70. Awww. But seriously – wear some ear protection!
    I once worked one night in a noisy factory without it and I was deafer than my elderly parents for a week, even though I wore ear protection the rest of that week. If they aren’t wearing it, they should!
    Also consider getting out into the fresh air, or at least the air of a good pub or yarn shop. You really don’t have to be a witness to everything done.
    If they don’t find any tape measures at all – not even the melted metal tabs at the ends – it may be time for the girls to confess.

  71. How wonderful that you found the blue baby! Makes me wonder what we would find in ours (nothing quite so important, since I can’t think of anything, but there’s got to be stuff down there)
    What I want to know though, is how you know the “unmistakable smell of charred camel dung” ?

  72. You’re a brave woman, not to have left your house for the comfort of a hotel.
    And how sweet that your daughter’s long-lost toy has been found. A little thing but little things can lift the spirits.
    Hang on, the end is in sight!

  73. If the internet truly had “scratch and sniff” capability and you included a sample of the smell in your house, do you really think that ANYBODY would be stupid enough to scratch it after reading your description of the smell?
    I thought I knew what you were going through because of my recent renovations, but clearly, I had no idea of the true scope and magnitude of the problem.

  74. oh please please let us know what sam’s reaction to the little blue baby is! it would be so fun to have something from so long ago retrieved after such an untimely loss. i hope she thinks it’s great.

  75. I am both impressed and disgusted by your breadth of descriptive words.
    As for the doll, I apologize now if this is overly sentimental, but if she wants to follow that “something old, something new” thing when and if she gets married, that doll would make a great “something blue”.

  76. And I thought I was having a bad week because my local yarn store lady decided to go on a cruise and close up shop. :( So glad blue tiny baby is back! What a nice ending to a horrific experience.

  77. Aw…it’s like the story of the tin soldier!
    Now, me–I’d be much more worried about the big animal ghosts mooing and oinking their way through the house in the middle of the night, now that their sacred burial ground has been disturbed.

  78. When you do house renovation, you don’t renovate you have adventures. Those horrible adventures that only sound cool and exciting when they aren’t happening to you.
    I hope your excitement is over soon, so you can calm down for at least a few minutes and let the crazy out the door.

  79. I hear ya sister! Renos just suck, but unfortunately, they come with the “joys” of living in an older home. I’ve been there — the plaster dust that finds it’s way on to EVERY freakin’ surface imaginable in the house, the noise, the feeling that your house is out of control, etc. Then, it’s all done and your house is yours again, only better and improved. Keep your eye on the prize!

  80. Don’t get your hopes too high – she might not remember…but you do! What does one knit w/BISON while smelling CAMEL DUNG?!

  81. Hi Stephanie,
    I have been reading your blog for a couple of years and finally felt compelled to comment. Not only have you inspired me with your knitting, you have inspired me with your brave home renos. I too am a proud owner of a 101-year old 1000 sq. foot home in Toronto. We only bought our house a year ago and every time we go to do anything, it is a disaster. For example, my husband tried to install a ceiling fan in one room and track lighting in another, only to discover that our whole house will probably have to be re-wired. So the ceiling fan is up but we are afraid to turn it on, and the track lighting is back in the box, waiting for the day when the house is re-wired. And the list goes on – everything is a nightmare. Also, your experience with putting your new washer and dryer in the basement is similar to what ours will be. When we bought our house, the washer and dryer were in the living room and we didn’t know why – turns out they won’t fit in the basement as they are stackable and too high for the basement ceiling. And if we buy a regular set, we will have to tear out a door frame, the basement stairs, and part of a wall to get it downstairs. So we just live with the washer and dryer in the living room.
    Thank you for helping me to see the humour in this and making me feel as if I am not alone. Thank God for knitting!

  82. Blue Tiny Baby brought tears to my eyes! Makes all the mess and noise worth it (easy for me to say, since I’m not there!). What a gift. Enjoy your new furnace!

  83. I felt so sorry for you after the first day. Then they arrived to install my new windows. I wanted to bash my head against the walls. Now I don’t have the depth of problems you work seems to, but the invasion and noise, I understand. Today I visited a homebound friend. I need to find something for tomorrow!

  84. i grew up in a farmhouse that our babysitter, who was from the original owners’ family, told us began as a log cabin and was added onto as needed. when we lived there, it had 5 rooms and bath on the ground floor and three bedrooms and a half-bath upstairs. by the time we lived there, it was 100+ years old. the city had grown up around the house, though our 1-acre lot had the old smokehouse and wonderful fruit trees and an arbor with two kinds of grapes.
    when i was 18, we moved, but retained ownership of the house. later, my brother and sister-in-law lived there, moved away, moved back and renovated. when they renovated, they had to do lots of structural stuff, during the course of which they “found” the original cabin. and in an echo of blue tiny baby, they found a 5″ tall wooden “peg” doll that looked like the ancestor of the fisher-price “little people.” (they also found some old bottles from the builders’ lunches. some things just don’t change.)
    they love antiques, so the little wooden guy got a place of honor in one of their china cabinets.
    you can console yourself that at least your furnace didn’t cause a fire. about 2 one frigid february morning in the ’60s, i was awakened by our chihuahua/toy manchester “tap-dancing” on me to wake me because she knew the house wasn’t supposed to smell like that. i got the rest of the family/pets out, and the firemen got there in time to prevent the smoldering insulation from turning into a serious fire.
    here’s hoping you’ll soon be basking in the warmth of your big, fat expenditure. and tell your brother that you’ve already WON this year’s furnace wars — you’ve had the house open to the elements, while his has been all closed up and comparatively cozy.

  85. Remember last week when you escaped? Methinks another bout of escapism is called for here. Do the furnace guys need you for anything? Could you have your cell with you for consults? Get thee out of there.
    Oh and that toy is darling. What a great leaving from the furnace.
    Namaste,

  86. hey guys..Steph smelled a smell that’s so vile and disgusting that she wishes she had a way to share it with all of us via scratch-and-sniff method. That’s her first instinct.?.lol..”hey, this smells really bad..here..smell it”

  87. Um…..just wondering….how is your cat handling this?
    good luck and hope it’s all over very soon.

  88. Oh, PLEASE share Sam’s reaction when she sees the baby. I hope she even remembers it…

  89. I hope things are back to normal for you soon.
    My furnace is being replaced on Friday, and I’m not looking forward to it. I hope the most my old furnace produces is a blue tiny baby…..

  90. Holy Moly!! I guess you could pretend to be an archiologist on a dig in your basement. I loved the comment about the closets, you are one funny lady! Hang in there.

  91. Thank you for sharing this. We are replacing a hot water heater and the idea that one thing leads to another, not to a finished repair is one I am trying to come to terms with.

  92. Is it wrong to long for my own Blue Tiny Baby? I have never seen that doll before, but now I have an urge to carry one around in my pocket… Hang in there Steph.

  93. Someday, in the far future, someone may find
    my diamond earring that went down the air vent.
    It was a 40th anniversary present from my husband, and I cried hystericaly.

  94. Oh, Stephanie!
    I so feel for you…I myself am about to embark on a major home remodel, jackhammer and all, and I have a feeling my teeth will be rattling soon. I hope it’s all finished for you very soon.
    I have a thought regarding your comment about the sulphur smell…perhaps something to do with “fire and brimstone,” and Beelzebub. Perhaps that’s got some influence on all the troubles you’ve been having…;D

  95. I hope Sam was as happy to see her baby as you were :) And I’m SO GLAD that your blog doesn’t have a scratch and sniff setting.
    Keep thinking about what a good decision it was to have your furnace replaced before you get the weather we’re having tonight (Supposed to have several inches of snow tonight… roads are slippery and snow covered… my husband, kids and I are sitting here, drinking hot chocolate and watching it fall down… I’m going to go down in a minute and make sure the UPS is plugged in so if the power goes out tonight, we have heat and hot water in the morning).

  96. your description made me think of child-birth, the “it-will-soon-be-over” mantra . . .

  97. I say break out the quiviut. and the scotch. and enough dark chocolate to induce a diabetic coma.

  98. Blue Tiny Baby! How sweet! And much better than some of the things that they could find down there.
    Speaking as one who spent an entire summer getting the whole backside of her house rebuilt due to wood rot, you’ll survive this. Just don’t think about what it costs, drink a lot of that Screech stuff, and find yourself some earplugs. And silk. Silk lace yarn helps.

  99. I love the Tiny Blue Baby story, but I really, really want to hear more about the large animal bones. Pictures would be good too.

  100. Your house sounds like it owns a very interesting history. I wonder what other secrets it will reveal over time.
    The tiny blue baby must signify hope, like what you’d find at the bottom of Pandora’s box.

  101. It’s almost over… And what a wonderful ending!
    My son, as a toddler, stuffed silverware down the heating vents every time I wasn’t looking. We opened and checked every one before we left that house behind, but the new owners had some real surprises waiting for them. We just wished we knew exactly where.

  102. Love the tiny blue baby : ) So sorry about your hearing and the smell – did your cafe close down?

  103. Sorry you’re having to go through all this with the furnace etc, but it’s cool that Sam’s little blue baby was recovered. Hang in there Stephanie…..you could come down here to Stitches East this weekend and get away from it all…..

  104. I wish I could say that finding the Little Blue Baby is worth all the noise, smell and upheaval…..but ya gotta admit, it comes close!

  105. I wish I could say that finding the Little Blue Baby is worth all the noise, smell and upheaval…..but ya gotta admit, it comes close!

  106. This all reminds me of having our old furnace taken out and replaced. In February. In Alaska. It felt like being awake for open heart surgery. “If these guys screw up or don’t finish in time, we’re gonna DIE.” Best wishes for a full and rapid recovery of your house.

  107. What? Bones in the basement? eew.
    Tiny Blue Baby? So sweet. Can you tuck her into Sam’s waiting bed? Let her find her at bedtime?
    Sorry about the noise, dust and oh yes, the smells. It does cause you to wonder just what the heck it can be that makes such a stench.

  108. You know Sam will probably cry again. what a great story – one positive out of the chaos. Hang in there – these house things are rarely fun.

  109. As one also undergoing a significant reno (gutted the kitchen, plumbing and all), I sympathize entirely. Deep breaths, lots of knitting, and the occasional bottle (oh, wait, I mean glass, right? right?) of wine have helped me to get through the last few months with my sanity (what little I had) reasonably intact.
    Good luck!

  110. A beacon of light at the end of the dark and smelly tunnel…
    When we had our beast taken from our basement we made some kind of wench…tied a rope to the beast, then ran that rope up the stairs and around a very sturdy clothesline pole and then to the back of a truck. as the truck pulled the beast up the stairs and to the clothesline pole the truck ended up under the beast and hauled it away…this was my idea and I have no idea why or how it worked but it did and I am forever greatful…

  111. Dear God in Heaven!!! I can handle no more details. Blue tiny baby is the last straw. And, most 3 year olds remember almost nothing of their past life. You remember the trauma; Sam probably doesn’t. However, it’s so ingrained in YOUR memory(the tears and sobs) that you tend to think that it is just as deeply embedded in Sam’s. Maybe-maybe not. I’m taking myself off blogs for a week to regain my sanity. Time for a LARGE glass of red wine.

  112. I work for a mechanical company (plumbing, heating, etc) and some of the smells when the guys return from a service call are beyond difficult to describe. Essential oils just don’t do it justice.
    My sympathies. Knit on thru all crises!

  113. Aww – I love love LOVE that Blue Tiny Baby – she’s precious. And what a great story about it. And – while it may not seem like it right this minute – in not too long maybe she alone will be the deciding factor on making this project all worthwhile.
    She’s lovely :)

  114. If I remember aright, the phenomenon of senses shutting down due to overstimulation is called “sensory accomodation.”

  115. I wonder if she will remember blue tiny baby? I don’t remember many things that must have seen really important at three, but then she is a smart girl!
    Anyhow, I hope that the work and smell and turmoil is over for you soon, and you can enjoy your house again. Oh yeah, the foundation…hmmm…

  116. If I remember aright, the phenomenon of senses shutting down due to overstimulation is called “sensory accomodation.”

  117. Wow, that sounds truly awful in every way. But it could be worse, can you imagine being the workers and having that job?
    I have the feeling that we might need to send you some qiviut before all this is over. . .

  118. Oy vey, that right there sounds like a nightmare. Hang in there! Say yes to wine! And earplugs.
    But how sweet that Blue Baby was recovered. My mom has been pulling out toys of mine that she saved so that the tot can play with them, and I’ve remembered a lot of them. I bet she’ll remember.

  119. I am reading your posts with great sympathy, having lived through one remodel. Admittedly, the house was only 65 when we did the remodel, but holes in your walls are bad no matter what. In our case the entire back of the house was gone, and all that stood between us and the raccoons and opossum was some plastic sheeting. And noise and dust and smells, ugh! My heart goes out to you.
    But it is so sweet Blue Tiny Baby was discovered at last! We too have that exact baby in a playhouse set. The set was a hand-me-down from the family next door, and we will be handing it one more door down the street in a bit.
    Courage, dear, and earplugs will see you through.

  120. It is OH SO VERY that kind of week, Steph! Miles of trials leavened only sweet signs the universe has a sense of humor. That photo just makes me want to knit Blue Tiny Baby an outfit from the leftover skein of my sanity-saving reno-knit project (peridot-green Baby Twist alpaca. Only luxury fibers can make renos survivable.)
    Now, who out there is good with polymer clay? Blue Tiny Baby needs a hardhat and a zaw-saw to go with her new onesie…

  121. I must disagree with you on one thing. I would find robotic T-Rexs less scary. Because they would neither smell nor drool. Besides, they’re robots, so they may step on me accidentally, but it’s not like they’d think I’d make a tasty snack.
    Good luck getting through it all.

  122. Such a sweet “Blue Tiny Baby”. Despite all the trials and tribulations of the reno I can only imagine the reward of seeing your daughters face when she sees Blue Tiny Baby. Soon you will have reliable heat.
    As someone who fought for 3 years of the Colorado cold (including a year of weekly blizzards) with unreliable heat only to have the heating system fail completely a month before we moved, I can commiserate. It is much more worthwhile to live in the home long enough to actually enjoy the new heating system.

  123. I truly do not know how you are staying in the house with all the “adventures” that are going on. I do not know of anyone who has experienced this much shall we say trauma trying to replace the heater/funace. We had our heater in the basement when we lived in Illinois when I was a kid but the only issues we had there was the basement flooding in bad storms. Tiny Blue Baby, what a wonderful find. We had a little ring lost when Allison was six. I remember the sobbing. You never know what treasures lie in the dark of the basement furnace.

  124. Humans are born with only two fears: the fear of falling and of loud noises. All the rest we pick up as we go along so it’s no wonder your visceral self is feeling unsettled.
    I’ll be really impressed if you can keep your gauge even with intermittent blasts of sawzall noise.

  125. Oh gosh, tiny blue baby! I have one exactly like that (well, minus the face) somewhere around. I adored them as a kid, and now my nieces and nephews love them. I once had a tiny green baby as well, and she has been lost to the great cold air return in the sky.

  126. Well, our house is coming up on a hundred, and I feel your pain. At some point in every. single. job. a workman comes to me and says “Mrs Homeowner, we found a little problem…”
    My son had a tiny giraffe ( plastic) that he dropped overboard off the ferry one day. Oh, the crying. He was convinced he had drowned, until we found a library book about a toy that had floated across the ocean. One night after bed, he asked wistfully ” do you think the little boy in China who has Charlie lets him sleep under his pillow? Charlie likes that.”

  127. Ohhhh….we had “baby boom” that went missing and then was found years later by me…apparantly the only one who missed her. Can’t explain the name. Just sayin’

  128. Blue Tiny Baby reminds me of a story I read in our newspaper a few months ago. It turns out a restaurant was remodeling their booths and when they removed one, they found a toy rocket ship behind it. There also was a note, I think, from the dad of the little boy who dropped it in this inaccessible place, and it had the family’s phone number on it. When the restaurant manager called, he found out that the boy had lost the toy four years ago, and since that time, Dad had died in Iraq (or Afghanistan, I’m not sure). I guess it was a small bright spot in the lives of a family going through a rough time.
    I hope Sam is pleasantly surprised to get her toy back.

  129. There is a great lost toy story called “The Leaf Men” that we love to read at bedtime. Thanks for the story.

  130. OMG, big animal bones?!? Wow!
    I’ve occasionally wondered about those little lost treasures and the subsequent lives they lead.

  131. Dude– you’re doing so much better than I would be. I’d be rocking back and forth, holding my knees and chanting, “Make it go away… make it go away…”

  132. When we redid our kitchen, I thought I would lose my mind from the stresses. ( plural ) I didn’t, but it was close. I do love the result and would do it again if needed. Hang in there!

  133. DH says the smell is ‘wool fumes’ (Ha, what does he know?)
    DH says you should become a wine taster – but I think just watch ‘Posh Nosh’ on YouTube – a very funny short English comedy, the husband does a great wine description (e.g. ‘notes of citrus, leather, and French fags).

  134. Is there somewhere you can escape to? A nice pub?
    I love Tiny Blue Baby. I can only wish that one day Desdemona – a knitted doll from my childhood (I also had a black knitted doll called Othello. Blame my parents) will turn up one day.

  135. At least it was only animal bones! Did you ever find out what the ‘spare’ bricks were for – as in ‘it might come in useful’. My Dad stashed odd bricks and things like motor spares like I stash yarn – perhaps your original builder was like that!

  136. This is a perfect Halloween Story, and you tell it so well!
    Hope the fillings come out of this thing intact, in the teeth in the mouth.
    I wence for you.
    Best,
    firefly

  137. Amazing story about Blue Tiny Baby. Hard to imagine your neighborhood was once farmland! I had cattle bones surface in my yard once too. A little freaky, since the house I was living in at the time was built before indoor plumbing was standard (was added before I moved in).

  138. Awww – see – there is something very positive about all this furnace repair. It sure beats yesterday’s loose brick discovery (which BTW had my stomach doing really bad somersaults.). Can’t wait to hear more about Blue Tiny Baby.

  139. Oh, the smells I would share if there were scratch-and-sniff blogs!
    Change sucks – it sounds like you are handling it amazingly well.

  140. Sweet story about the blue tiny baby–I hope you’ll share Sam’s reaction. I’ll bet she remembered it.
    You need some Bose noise cancelling headphones. Unfortunately they don’t make anything smell canceling…I say get out of the house for that and take the bison with you.

  141. The Unspeakably Loud Saw reminds me of the time we had our furnace replaced. We had a 3-ring cast iron boiler system, converted from coal to oil in the 50′s, and were replacing it with a brand new (18 years ago) mid efficiency gas boiler system. I sat in my living room, hearing sledgehammers belting away at the old furnace, punctuated by the almighty crash of a 600 pound cast iron ring falling to the floor on three separate occasions. I felt the whole house shake and saw my pictures shift on the walls. One of the guys, who were wreaking all of this havoc, liked to whistle. A lot. (It’s so nice to see a really cheerful person happy at his work. Don’t you think?) When I asked him about it, he told me that he whistled because he wasn’t allowed to swear on the job.
    Oh my.
    My boiler works just fine these days and my house is warm in the winter. Yours will get there, too.
    What a priceless find at the bottom of the furnace.
    I wonder if blue tiny baby counts as treasure trove? I sure hope you got a picture of Sam when you showed her what they found.

  142. Wow! This sounds seriously unpleasant. But, at least you understand why all this is happening. I feel bad for your cat. She must be really upset by all the noise and smells!
    I hope it’ll be over soon and you’ll have a cozy, warm home with new yarn and fiber storage areas!!
    Beth

  143. You guys dug up animal bones? You’re not going to have angry ghostly farm animals haunting you now, are you??? It’s to funny. We’re on an old farm as well and find things like that a lot.
    Good luck -and DO share Sam’s reaction. I have a 2 year old now so that story of her loss really it hard in the gut.

  144. I so wish there was something I could do for you. I am so sorry that you are experiencing all of this. But, if you feel the need to get away, my part of Virginia is beautiful this time of year, we’d be happy to have you.
    And we have had worse things down our vents that you don’t want back. So hooray it was a tiny blue baby toy.

  145. Actually, Brampton pet supplies used to make an enzymatic odor removing candle. I don’t think they’re making them anymore, which really suckes because they worked! We can still find them at a few of our local petstores, so maybe that will help with the delicates scent of furnace renos wafting up the stairs… They’re good with cat box odors and stinky fish ones too.
    Steph! Best of luck on your reno! It’ll be worth it come January and your heat doesn’t go out! But I know it’s stressful. They’re redoing the other half of our duplex right now (opposite side of a shared wall) and it’s making me nuts. Especially when they need to come into our back yard or use our bathroom… (WHY! There’s a bathroom over there! So WHAT if it has no door; you’re all guys! Just don’t cross the streams!)
    Sorry for the ventage…
    *sigh* I’m all out of cashmere.

  146. I can appreciate the noise. We live in pre 1970 apartments in the Midwest. Not nearly as old as your house but built before energy efficency was a concern. So no insulation and single pane aluminum windows. Not very noise muffling. We live by the airport next to a very controversial buyout which has finally been resolved. So now our backyard area has had all the trees and bushes (ppor birds and bunnies and squirrels) cut down so they can build a new Municipal building. The heavy equipment actually makes the furniture shake and the cats go hide. Luckily they can’t start befor 8:00 am. Rock n Roll anyone.

  147. I have a friend whose cat actually got into the furnace vents and ended up right in the furnace; burned her little paws before they could get her out!

  148. Oh, Stephanie! We have the same baby in green. We got it years ago with my now 20 year old daughters little tykes playhouse. Unfortunately, at some point, one of my daycare kids must have taken it home. The heartbroken one wasn’t my daughter, it was me. I LOVED “green baby” (what my now 16 year old son used to call it.) Finally went to ebay and bought an entire new family just to get “green baby” back. She’s a favorite among all the kids. She has a stroller, a carseat and a toy box that the little ones all like to put her in. I’m so happy you found your “blue baby”! I hope Sam is as thrilled as you are.

  149. I’ve been following along but reluctant to comment because a) I’ve been to some of there and b) will undoubtedly be revisiting at some point and c) I don’t want to tempt any sort of anything by even thinking about it. However, I must comment on finding Blue Tiny Baby — sweet, sweet, sweet!! (And evidently worth the risk.)

  150. Hooray for Tiny Blue Baby’s safe return! When my daughter (now 16) was 3, we lost The Knitted Bunny for about 6 months during my dad’s illness/death. There was much sorrow and bewilderment that Mommy was not powerful enough to find TKB or save Grandpa. Happily, TKB reappeared in the bottom of a sleeping bag we’d been using while staying at my parents’. All was well. But Tiny Blue Baby’s story is one of much longer duration, resilience, and survival in the face of great odds. Those we love always find their way home to us.

  151. Thanks from all the mommies that are trying to get over their “babies” growing up (I have a 7th grader who is changing daily!)…I needed a good morning cry!
    Trish

  152. Well, my mother would have read this and said that first, you have been rewarded for your tolerance of the trouble by the finding of the doll and second, the T-Rexes cannot possibly be in your basement because there simply is not enough room down there with that huge gravity furnace and third, if all went well, then where’s the new stuff to write about? However, my mother was not a knitter….Me? I just say…RUN!!!

  153. Hi, I’m Peri’s other…wanted to send a warning! Robotic T-Rexes are fueled by (gasp) wool. That smell is….well, let’s say..processed fuel. Not only should you run…take the wool with you!

  154. Every time you go through reno-hell, you are improving your house. In this case, you are making your basement better. Let’s face it-you have an old house. When you fix 3 unexpected things when doing a project, you are making your house a little bit better in the long run. I know it is disruptive to have your house invaded, but you will be happier in the end.
    Hang in there.

  155. I found myself holding my breath as I read this. Like I am there trying to bare(?) the smells and vibrations with you. Peace be with you and your emotional self.

  156. I found myself holding my breath as I read this. Like I am there trying to bare(?) the smells and vibrations with you. Peace be with you and your emotional self.
    Others carry the burden of this prey instinct, http://xkcd.com/87.

  157. Hurray for blue baby! Having suffered a similar tragic loss (picking blueberries) in our family, I can relate.
    Blue baby was probably glad to escape the close proximity to the robotic T-rexes in the basement, too!
    Let us know if you find any single socks during this…everyone wants to know where the odd one goes!

  158. Does the fact that my eyes got ever so slightly misty when I saw the picture of blue tiny baby mean there is something wrong with me? Something else, I mean, in addition to what we already knew about.
    I did mention the dirt-floor cellar in our old house, didn’t I? Whenever some tradesman needed to go down there I would say, “don’t be alarmed, but this is where they filmed _Silence of the Lambs_.” I never had such interesting smells to lend credence to the tale, however.

  159. Something to think about in the tub tonight…Are there any wires running around your house, (ethernet, cable, speaker, etc.) that you can get behind wall and baseboard as long as they’re ripping and tearing.
    My kitchen is gutted right now, so that’s what I’m thinking about while I knit to remain calm.

  160. You have a hilarious way of telling a stressful tale. Soon you’ll laugh too. I’m delighted you found Blue Baby and I send you hugs and best wishes.

  161. Hurray! What a surprise to find tiny blue baby! My son (at 2 yrs) lost “Chipmunk”, and sobbed relentlessly every time I gave him “Bambean” (Bambi)his stuffed deer. To this day, he wonders what lucky child has his beloved stuffed chipmunk. I hope Sam is very happy to see her toy returned. But I have to wonder, how many crochet hooks, knitting needles and implements were sacrificed to the mighty heating vents in a vain attempt to gain the return of this toy? Find some industrial ear muffs (safety first!) and maybe some hard liquor, and wait out the repairs. Finding your daughter’s toy may be a good sign- for all the expense and aggravation, she has something good of it all.

  162. My mother always says you haven’t “lost” anything until you die. Until then there is the chance of finding it, so it is only misplaced. Blue Baby just proves her point, I guess.

  163. Awww, that’s so sweet. I think I would have run screaming from the house, WITH the dog. If I wouldn’t like that much noise, I think Jasmine would hate it worse!
    Sam will be so happy to see her blue tiny baby! My younger daughter had a purple bunny that was her constant companion, when she was little. We did finally lose it, and she had a few hard nights of trying to fall asleep without it, and eventually adjusted. I’m still sad that we lost it. At least we have pictures of the purple bunny and what it meant to Emily.

  164. I second the cabin idea. It might save your hearing & sanity, but then again, you might not find any other lost treasures. I also hope the crabby commentor who posted at 9:25pm on 10/21 drowns in her glass of wine.

  165. “blue tiny baby” – I love it! We have “Shreddie Man”. Looks a little like the MiniWheats guy on TV but he’s a Shreddie (strangely, he has a little suction cup on his back – must be a window-clingy thing). He fit right in with all the Polly Pockets and Barbie’s little sisters. Ahhh, the memories!

  166. What a wonderful thing to find!! I’d love to see Sam’s face when she sees it.
    Maybe that’s where the elusive Barbie dog is, missing nigh on 15 years…………

  167. Oh, Sweetie,
    Get out of that house. Now, please. Yes, the noise is going to damage your hearing. No, you don’t need to be there with all that noise and noxious odor. Rent a hotel room. Take up daytime residence at an understanding pub. Just, get out!

  168. I understand completely about a noise that loud causing terror in your primitive brain. I had a factory job once that had one really loud machine. When it was used (only occasionally, thank goodness) I had the strongest urge to run away.
    I strongly suggest hearing protection for everyone in the house.
    Perhaps finding blue tiny baby is a good sign that everything will work out well. I’m sure blue tiny baby is feeling pretty lucky that she didn’t go to the trash with the furnace!

  169. Pooh to all the people who think Meg won’t remember losing Blue Tiny Baby. I’m a LOT older than Meg and I still remember the teddy bear that I accidentally dropped behind the woodpile stacked against the fence in our yard when I was three, from which resting place my mother refused to retrieve him. Trauma doesn’t begin to cover it!
    I’m so glad BTB was found.

  170. So, does this mean you lost the furnace war with your family now that the heat is on? Or does testing to make certain new furnaces work not count? A ruling please….
    Deb.
    PS I live in NJ, and am a wimp, our furnace is on
    just to take the chill out of the air in the morning…

  171. Oh, my knitty stars!!! I had that exact same little blue baby when I was a kid!! It came with this massive plastic dollhouse that I kept until I was eight-ish.
    Y’know, I think your daughter and i might be about the same age.

  172. When I was a baby I had the same one… and I imagine it’s in our basement somewhere to this day!

  173. So?? Did she remember blue tiny baby? Was she thrilled? Can’t wait to hear about her reaction… my kids always surprised me with these things.

  174. What a great metaphor for rebirth.
    I think you are going through those nightmare renovations for the sole reason that the truly dangerous things like a giant leak and a crumbling foundation may be revealed. I don’t think you’d prefer a collapsed house…

  175. Just think, the new furnace will be smaller–the gained space is ehre other things can be stored/live so you have MORE yarn storage in the locations you just made–by moving stuff down to basement–Joe’s clothes..you know..stuff you dont need or use…LOL

  176. I was on a road trip with my Mom and DH today and was alternating between knitting and reading one of your books (out loud, as entertainment for DH, who was driving…)When they tear out all those old vents, do you think that you’ll find those 80+ tape measures? Look on the bright side! :)

  177. Blue Tiny Baby made me cry, but in a good way. (I have a 2-year-old girl.)
    Keep thinking about the reliable heat, coming soon. Eyes on the Prize. I’ll need folks to remind me of those things, too, if (when!) I finally get a new kitchen, with a broiler that works, and a counter that’s not decomposing day by day, and drawers that don’t shave sawdust onto the clean dishes below every time I go to get a spoon…

  178. Have been thru sooo many renos, and so many times when renos Should Have Happened, but didn’t, that I don’t know which of those scenarios is worse….. but reading your updates, and seeing the initial ‘destruction’ that you are living thru makes me want to send so many really supportive ‘vibes’ your way. Have not great memories of the times, but the relief in the relative security (read, nobody moving and touching your stuff) of the end of the reno/repair/aftermath makes it worthwhile. Recommend A N Y T H I N G that can take your mind off of it…. Really hope that it is over very soon!!! THEN, there is the new stash hunt…. really looking forward to reading about it!

  179. When noise is that LARGE, earplugs (or even deafness) just can’t help. A noise that big vibrates the very air around and INSIDE you, not to mention the atoms of your entire being. The flight response surges to the fore because the ‘fight’ response just dissipates in the violence.
    Hoo, boy, do I ‘get’ what you just lived. Kinda rearranges your molecules for awhile, doesn’t it?
    Happy Dance time will be here soon… but what an adventure.
    “my emotional self simply can’t be convinced that I am not having an emergency” and “They also assure me it doesn’t smell that bad, which makes me think that what I was hoping would happen to my hearing has taken out their sense of smell.” — I just can’t get tired of the way you tell a story.
    Hang in there, and thanks. BTW, how’s the cat coping with this?

  180. Did I see right on Twitter: heating in ON? Will there be no battle of the heating switch this year then? I hope it is snug and sweetly scented in your house, and cool enough to wear your new jacket, (Gorgeous by the way)… Oh and quiet too!

  181. Having the furnace turned on by a professional HVAC person surely cannot count against you in the furnace competition?
    Demand a do-over-or not-I know you are glad it’s (almost) over. Maybe I will see the end of my vent holes this year myself (it’s only been 3 for some of them-they are aging like fine wine).
    Congrats on a job well handled.

  182. This entire ordeal you’re going under (poor woman) keeps reminding me of the “Archaeology” chapter in Yarn Harlot. Have you found all of your lost tape measures and DPNs?

  183. Ugh – Steph I feel your pain. My apartment building was built in 1895, so it’s a bit younger than your house, but quite mature nonetheless. We had a small ceiling collapse in August and the smell that came out was akin to an open grave. Between the creepy smell and the constant fear that something would crawl out of the gaping hole (rats? zombies?), all of the residents of the apartment, both human & feline, were incredibly on edge til the hole was patched. Speaking of which, how is your kitty? Hopefully she hasn’t fallen through any of the floor/ceiling holes.

  184. Where is that coffee shop again? Couldn’t you be there? Or the pub with the advantage of internet access? Surely you could be outa there instead of destroying your hearing and terrifying yourself. I am sure the workmen will leave the Blue Tiny Baby.

  185. I COMPLETELY understand about the primitive mind not understanding that you are not about to be assaulted. Several years ago I had the immense pleasure of working at a convenience store that stayed open during major rennovations – my assistant manager was completely horrified when I burst into tears at the end of my shift, shaking and crying. I tried to tell her that my emotions could not take all the banging and pounding and that emotionally I felt as if I had been witness to a huge knock down drag out argument for eight hours. I really do reccommend leaving the house for as much time as possible as that primitive part of your brain will wreak havoc on your emotions and stress level – you just can’t reason with it. Hang in there harlot!

  186. Get out now. Take the blue tiny baby with you.
    Breathe. Knit. Drink coffee and beer and repeat after me: “It will be all right”. Order a pizza.
    Rinse. Repeat.

  187. The story of Tiny Blue Baby brought a lump to my throat and tears my eyes. Though we are about the same age, my only baby will turn 3 in about a week. I suspect this tendency toward choking up is only going to get worse…

  188. I’m sure you checked to make certain there is no asbestos in the furnace. We had to clean up the mess a previous owner made in an older home–to the tune of $30,000.–and that was 15 yrs. ago.
    Money is not the main problem–asbestos is deadly.
    Hope it’s done SOON!

  189. When we have our forced air heater/air conditioner replaced in Lancaster, they use a great big crane to swing it from the street to the roof, going around a good-sized tree. I don’t know how they’ll replace the units in Palm Desert, since they’re in the attic (although the a/c compressors are on the ground, outside the garage). I live in earthquake country and basements to code are too expensive for private homes. Instead, we have two-car garages.

  190. OH
    Stephanie, I so relate. Even though I have never had this happen to me, I have had the air vents cleaned and this netted a compass for a ship—very big clog. Keep going to your “crappy” coffee shop and knitting: it may be the only way to survive….Meanwhile I envision you in the tub delightfully warm while it is below zero outside—knitting a difficult pair of socks. Our feet are the same size so If you do not want them: I would be more than excited to wear them. You would get along very nicely with my “autistic” but excedingly sweet Ariedale. Love, Nanci from Keizer, OR

  191. OMG!! The Tiny Blue Baby makes it all SO WORTH IT!
    But I just finished (14 weeks) a entire kitchen gut and remodel. The planning took a bit longer – ahead of time. There were a few snags and one of them was the cabinet installers saying “we have to cut apart and re-assemble this cabinet because of X+Y+Z,….. AUGH!!” After doing some measuring and making them explain twice – I said DO IT BUT I CANNOT WATCH. They laughed at me, but I totally trusted them. And now it is totally gorgeous and they did a perfect job. If you like them, trust them.

  192. For what it’s worth: I read an article somewhere that said as people age, on average, women’s sense of smell becomes sharper and men’s sense of smell just about stops working. I think this explains a lot.

  193. oh my, huge sounds hit my primordial core and coming from under my feet would fill my body. I’m very happy tiny blue baby was brought forth, that is a sweet sweet thing. Here’s to the foundation holding and the new heating ‘engine’ installing sooner than later.

  194. Love this story! My husband recently found an old pacifier (we called them “suckers”) outside in the barn lot. It brought tears to my eyes – our youngest is now 11!

  195. Hang in. Progress is being made.
    Hey, if you’ve moved up to bison, it can’t be all bad.

  196. Oooohhhhh, we are going to be going through a bathroom reno very soon. I’m not looking forward to it. Fortunately, I will be out of the house most of the time they will be working. And no furnace to saw to bits. I loved the Blue Tiny Baby story! Please share with us Sam’s reaction….
    When I was very young, I had a little plastic bunny I loved, had had it since I was a baby. I took it to school one day (for what reason, I will never know), and lost it in the snow. I was crushed, probably cried a lot, too. What I DO remember is that in the spring, I happened on that little bunny by the wayside – not a bit worse for the “hibernation.” I still marvel that no one else picked it up, because it was lying there in plain sight. Sigh…… :] I love happy endings.

  197. awwwww!!! So sweet! Did she remember it?
    My parents house we had baseboard radiators so I never had the devastation of losing anything down heating vents just many melted crayons that drove my mother insane. Although, there was a time a dropped a box of matches down my Grandmothers heating vent and was scared to death that I would cause her house to burn down…. my father talked me down from that one.
    I feel your pain, we had to replace our dead furnace last year in February. The sound of the saw, I will never forget *shiver*

  198. The blue baby is found!!! That is awesome. Plz -tell us how the reunion goes:-)
    RE the Saw. Are you writing the screenplay for the next saw franchise horror movie? ‘Cause I bet you can! The SAW is terrible. One night the next door neighbor cut a truck bed and tool box out of an old truck. His drive way is 10 feet from our bedroom (and the headboard is on that wall). Dreadful and never seemed to be over.

  199. Back in the dark ages before I got married, I worked for the Girl Scouts in Altoona PA. Girl Scout troops often meet in church basements in that part of the country. I now live in Florida and a basement is actually an indoor swimming pool. But I digress. I find your descriptions of your basement strikes a chord. I was always going to write a book on Church Basement Architecture in Altoona PA. I think robotic T-Rexes actually did live in some of them. They were downright strange. I hope your survive all this with your ears and nose intact. At some point it will all be over and you may want to actually listen to or smell something. This all reminds me of the catacombs.

  200. There’s deep meaning in the word “reno.” As in… Nevada. As in… gambling.
    So glad you got a tiny baby payoff, at least!
    One possibly hopeful side to the gambling analogy is “the house always wins.”

  201. (Yes, I am reading your updates backwards.)
    With your amazing ability, you have encapsulated the smell I lived through in the early 90s when the place I worked (Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley) was being gutted, mere feet from our heads and noses. My boss would periodically declare our office closed and send us home. The smells seemed truly carcinogenic. And I totally get the fight-or-FLIGHT reaction to loud, pound noise.

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