I almost forgot to relate the air conditioner repair saga. It turns out, our a/c wasn't producing cool air because my husband and I are stupid.
The repair guy went down to the basement and within five seconds said, "Here's your problem."
He came out from behind the furnace brandishing the system's air filter, which was so clogged with dust and probably cat hair that it was completely opaque.
As I paid him a ridiculous amount of money for the service call, he said, "Yeah, you really need to change those filters every one to two months."
I couldn't stop myself from a further demonstration of how ignorant I am about proper home maintenance. I said, "Really?!?"
Seriously, I'd have thought that once or twice a year would be plenty often enough. Then again, it's probably been at least a year since the filter was last changed - maybe longer.
Don't even ask me how we've managed to live here for almost eleven years without either of us coming to understand what it takes to properly maintain our heating and cooling systems. Next, I'll be wedging myself into the upstairs closet to find out what size filter that system needs. Heaven knows when someone last did that.