Once we were finally able to get the contractor and the warranty company to talk to each other, everything went smoothly. As I noted before, the contractor (both the one we used and the other one we consulted) wanted to replace the furnace as well as the A/C, because the furnace had been installed with the A/C cooling coil on top of it, which he said is wrong and damages the lifetime of the coil. When they finally talked to the warranty company, which covers our furnace but not our A/C, they refused to cover it, saying that while putting the cooling coil under the furnace might be a best practice, the manufacturer doesn't require it. So, once we opted not to replace the furnace (we figure, the warranty company can replace the furnace later when it breaks), the contractor set a date and replaced the A/C this past Thursday.
It is SO NICE being back home! Yeah, our friend's house is nicer than ours, with lots of space, Siri, and voice-controlled lights, and it was only three minutes from work, and it was great hanging out with him, but there's nothing like being able to relax in your own home with no pants (you may interpret that as American 'pants' or British 'pants', however you please). And doing whatever we want without worrying about whether it was bothering him or if he wanted to do something else! We did promise him that when we move to England, we will always have a room for him to come and hang in, for however long he wants.
I will say, though, that it was really nice getting a text from him yesterday that said, "The house seems so empty now." Awww.
Another benefit of this whole fiasco is that my room has been cleared, more or less. You see, our house is a disaster area. My husband and I spend most of our time in the computer room, so the rest of the house is basically storage - piles of things we have accumulated over the past twenty years. I've been wanting to reclaim my room for some time now, to make space for me to write and do other projects, but it's been slow going - it's not easy to go through mounds of junk and find places for them to go, especially when inertia kills motivation. In the past few years, I'd managed to move the bed to the best spot, move in a tall bookcase on which my DW stuff (mostly books and figures) and DT stuff (mostly DVDs which aren't in our communal DVD area) and music stuff was stored, and clear space for a short bookcase (but not space through which to move that bookcase in). The rest of the room was just blocked.
Well, part of the A/C installation required access to the crawlspace, which is through the trapdoor in the floor of my closet. Thus, the room had to be clear enough to allow people through. We spent two weekends going to the house in the morning, when it was cool enough to work, and clearing things, not only from the room but from the closet. Some of it went into the music room (which is now blocked, but at least it's all packed in boxes and organized), but we generated multiples sacks of garbage from throwing out stuff we just don't need, and a couple of bags of things for Goodwill. Now that the work is done, I've moved a number of boxes of things that had been just laying about into the closet, and the short bookcase is now in place (though not yet organized) - and now I have a desk, and hopefully will be getting a new dresser. There's still stuff on the floor, but I'm cleaning that up bit by bit every day, and then I'll have space for practice until we can re-clear the music room.
I think the most important thing, though, is that this has taught us that cleaning up our house is a lot less effort than we thought. When we first had to have contractors come out to look, we knew they needed to get to the furnace, so we took a morning to work on the garage. We spent only about 2-3 hours, but we made huge progress, and by the end of the second session, we cleared about half of it. (The remaining half is still a mountain.) We both actually feel that we've accomplished something, and that we don't have to view this as an impossible task. Hopefully, we'll keep the momentum up and spent a weekend a month or so tackling a new area.
And lastly, I actually wrote a few paragraphs last night. I did have to convince myself to do it, but it was mostly a matter of telling myself, "Come on, you're composing the plot and the dialogue in your head right now - how much more effort would it be to just pull out the iPad and type it out?" It wasn't anything momentous, but it felt good.