Connections: ‘What Next?’ Department

    With the clothes dryer failing to turn on, the kitchen wall phone delivering heavy static, and then the furnace shooting a stream of water onto the cellar floor, it was one hell of a weekend.
    I wasn’t complaining, exactly. Bad things come in threes, don’t they? So the siege was over, right?
    Following the change in the weather, on Sunday, I had been headed to the basement to put away two electric fans when I saw the flood. I put on my old yellow rubber boating boots, ventured down, and saw water pouring out of what I assumed was an overflow pipe. Why was it doing that? I got a bucket under the pipe, but at the rate it was filling, I figured it would need to be emptied every 10 or 15 minutes. Plumbing emergency!
    It wasn’t so bad with the dryer. I had pushed the start button to no avail several times on Saturday, and then given up hope. But by the next morning, the confounded thing seemed to have fixed itself. Our guess was that the dial had gotten out of sync in some way, but had been moved back in place when, on the umpteenth try, I turned it around. That repair was removed from the emergency list.
    We pretty much knew what was wrong with the phone: You could look out a kitchen window and see the old, cracked wires. But at least the other phones in the house were working just fine.
    In the basement, though, the water poured out of the furnace while we waited for the plumber to call back. By 6 on Sunday evening, when he did, the stream had become a trickle and was on its way to stopping. We agreed after hearing the plumber’s quick diagnosis that he could wait till the next day to come over.
    He arrived two days later, followed in short order by the telephone man.
    After fixing the furnace by replacing two valves, the plumber, much to my chagrin, delivered the next bad news: If he were I he would get a new fuel tank put in as soon as possible, as well as a new hot water heater.
    “It could go at any time,” he said, sounding grave.
    The silver lining, such as it was, was that the flue wasn’t dirty, so at least I didn’t have to call a chimney sweep.
    It’s an old house, to be sure, but the furnace and the dryer and the telephone are all relatively new. Superstition notwithstanding, I couldn’t help worrying about what could go wrong next, and decided to put up three new smoke and fire alarms, to replace the old ones that had died.
    Now, maybe, we can face the equinox with equanimity.