19 March 2000

Last night, Friday night, really, the temperature dropped into the teens. We had some snow, and sleet, and the bridges, then the roads went all icy. I was craving ice cream, but I didn't want to venture out.

Long about half past two, I heard the thunk of a car door in front of the house, and I looked out to see three cars, one fastback model and two police cruisers, two cops, and a feller being tested for DUI-- that's Driving Under the Influence in this state. Over the border, to the north, in Massachusetts, it's called OUI, Operating Under the Influence. In other places it's DWI, Driving While Intoxicated. I've often wondered why the term hasn't yet become standardized.

Anyway, I stayed to watch. Maybe I figured something interesting might happen, like a shootout. But things seemed pretty calm. This feller was standing behind his car, looking up at the clear, cold sky, while the cops watched him perform. Touch your nose with alternating fingers, sir. Stand on one foot, and lift the other foot up and hold it. They kept it up for a good ten minutes. And he seemed to be doing pretty good-- better than the folks in my yoga and T'ai Chi classes, for sure. He looked steady, and I thought they'd maybe pulled him over in the first place because he had a fast-looking car and was probably in a hurry to get home. But then they assembled the breathalizer.

That feller must be an experienced drinker, cuz when the cop read the result in the beam of his flashlight, they asked the feller to "turn around, sir, and put your hands on the car." Then they cuffed him, and read him his rights, and put him in one of the cruisers. The other officer stayed behind to wait for the tow truck. Moe's, of course. "Moe" must wait by the phone nights like a teenage girl hoping for a date. He showed up about three minutes after they made the arrest, and "Moe," the car, the cop, and the other cruiser were gone when I got back from getting a drink of water. So much for St. Patrick's Day. Bet that feller is wishing he'd stuck to the corned beef and cabbage.

By Saturday morning, "this morning" to me, the temperature in my house was down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr. But I was having some breakfast when I heard the furnace come on, and I hurried down to the basement. I got there just as it shut off. On a chance, I jiggled the wires to the thermostat, and-- wonder of wonders!-- that made it go back on. For about three minutes. Then it shut off again. And it wouldn't come back on for love nor money. I stared at the mouse skeleton on the floor by the furnace and contemplated: How the heck did that mouse skeleton get there? When? Why hadn't I noticed a dead mouse laying right out in plain sight? Did I want to pick it up and toss it out, or should I save it for a nature project?

I left the mouse skeleton where it was and went upstairs and messed with the thermostat. But that didn't do any good. I pushed the pointer up to 80, just in case it was having trouble reading the differential-- what the heck, I was pretty sure the heat wasn't going to come on anyway. And, as I was now thoroughly fed up with being cold, I walked over to the library. Yesterday's snow wasn't melting when I went out, but walking was definitely warmer than staying in the house.

The computers at the library continue to act strangely. I messed with them for a few minutes, but whatever is wrong (something in the network) will just have to wait until Tuesday when I'm officially on duty. I picked up two books on Trompe L'Oeil, then I headed home.

When I got back, the house was even colder. Temperatures were above freezing, though, so, screw it. I took the books and drove down to the Cafe to see Peter. A beautiful, huge, white disk of an almost full moon was sitting just above the horizon in a pale blue sky. Since the Cafe is east of here, I got to enjoy the view during the drive... the night would be cold and very, very bright.

The Cafe was quiet. Peter was working on Sunday's 'taters, and he said it'd been so slow for the past couple of hours that he'd been thinking of closing up. I helped him finish up the 'tater, but the sweeping still had to be done, and just after he picked up the broom and got started, folks started arriving. I took over the sweeping. By the time I was done, the rush was over and Peter and I settled at the counter to look through the books, and chat about trompe l'oeil and faux finishes, and how we wished we had time to do this stuff, and about the special PBS had on Michaelangelo...

I had supper with Ma, and then we practiced our T'ai Chi and yoga. Ma is actually improving. (I am, too, but it's not as unexpected.) I hung around for a while longer enjoying the heat...

And my house was even colder. But I had a new computer table to assemble, so that kept me pretty warm. Unfortunatly, once it was assembled, I started to feel the cold again. I went back over to Ma's and stayed to watch Relic Hunter. Then it was time to go home again...

I couldn't stand the cold. The screw driver was on the new computer table. I disassembled the thermostat again, trying to see if there was anything amiss. No. Nothing obvious. I took the screw driver down to the basement. I disassembled everything I could disassemble. I jiggled things-- no luck this time. I kicked things. I flipped the switch. I flipped the switch a dozen times. I pressed "reset." I contemplated the mouse skeleton. And all of a sudden, the darned furnace came on!

And it didn't go off. It took a while, but the heat came up and the radiators clanked and banged, and sloshed and spit-- sounds like you're in a U Boat. When the temperature got up to 60, I figured, what the heck, and, with some misgiving, I turned the thermostat indicator down to 60. The furnace shut off.

And I thought that would be that. And I thought I'd better call Uncle Tommy tomorrow and have him come out and take a look-- if anybody can fix an old furnace, it's Uncle Tommy-- because the weather is supposed to stay chilly. But, lo! and behold! as I was writing this entry, the furnace came on, the temperature evened up, the furnace turned off. Just like it's supposed to do. Go figure.

I can only wonder how long this will last.

And if you're wondering what Uncle Tommy will think of the mouse skeleton, the answer is "probably nothing." Where we come from, it just isn't all that unusual to find dead mice, or skeletons of dead mice, or other things. The only wonder is when you don't notice them.


Copyright © 2000 New Moon



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