Getting gassed

The living room heater, one of three here at the Hacienda.

This morning the heat sputtered out.

Normally, after biscuits, honey and café Americano negro around 8 a.m. in the dining room, we adjourn to the living room for 15 or 20 minutes to sit atop the scarlet sofa and mellow out with soft music, something I do far better than my highly amped child bride.

While doing this, the gas heater is keeping us cozy. But today it ran out of gas, sputtering and then adiós. The good thing is that it was not very cold this morning, but I was faced with the chore of refilling the tank. I disconnect it with a wrench, toss it onto the front-seat floor of the Honda and drive two minutes down the highway to the propane place.

It got filled for 160 pesos, about eight bucks.

Does not look full now, but it is.

When I lived in Houston, we also used gas for heating and cooking, but it came into the house via underground pipes from God only knows where. I never knew. A monthly bill arrived, and I paid it. End of story.

Things are more in-your-face here, less automatic. There’s more thought and labor involved. For 10 months of the year, the three heaters with their tanks simply sit inside the house ignored. I sometimes wonder if that’s wise, if I should disconnect the tanks and store them outside, but then my characteristic shiftlessness erupts, and I do nothing.

It’s been 18 years now with no problem.

And then there’s this far bigger tank in the service patio. It sits about 12 feet from the old gas water heater and its perpetual pilot light. Hope the tank never leaks.

I’m planning to make some changes next month. I’m thinking of buying an “instantaneous” heater that does not keep a perpetual pilot light going. According to the instructions on the model I’m looking at, hot water might not reach all the way to the downstairs bathroom, but an added pump should resolve that.

When I lived in Houston, I never had to think about any of this. The gas arrived all by itself, heating water in the tank in the garage, and feeding the stove and oven in the kitchen. The bill arrived. I wrote a check and mailed it off into the ethers.

Living in Gringolandia feeds laziness, and that encourages nincompoopery.

It’s not unusual to see trucks on the streets and highways that are propelled by propane instead of gasoline. Most of them are small commercial vehicles, and their LP tanks are plainly visible atop the cab or in another spot out in the open. My initial response on seeing these are that I would not want to be driving such a thing were an accident to happen.

But then I think about my car’s gasoline tank, and I wonder if there’s much difference, risk-wise. I suspect propane is cheaper, which is why they do it.

Are there LP-powered vehicles on American roads? I have no idea.