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Friday, December 1, 2000

Let's get something straight right off the bat: I'm never leaving the house again.

If you want to see me, you're going to have to visit. But good luck. Every single road that connects me with anything to the north is closed completely or shut down temporarily. There are three such roads. One is blocked off at my end, and the other two have flaggers conducting endless lines of traffic around freshly excavated holes in the asphalt, but only after interminable delays in all directions.

It might be possible to get here from the south. I haven't tried that direction, but it wouldn't surprise me if those roads were closed, too. If not, I guess I could drive south a few miles to a freeway onramp, and then go north until I got to the Highway 12 exit. Then, after negotiating the looping circles that get me headed back west again, I'd only have a few more miles to go until I was at the post office, which is about three blocks from my house when the roads are open.

Okay, three miles, not three blocks. If it was three blocks, I'd walk it (if I could get through).

All this would have been a little easier to take if I'd had a decent night's sleep. But I screwed that up for myself by switching beds. It turns out sleeping in the loft isn't the answer to my problems after all. That's where all the heat in the house ends up, but if I turn the furnace down low enough so that it's comfortable upstairs, it's freezing downstairs, where the bathroom is.

It didn't help to wake up this morning and discover that the pilot light on my water heater had gone out. There was enough lukewarm water left for a tepid shave and an overly refreshing shower. I considered calling for help, but I'm tired of being dependent on others for every little thing.

Gas makes me nervous, though, and at several points in the process I was ready to bolt next door to the landlord's. I got my nose down on the floor and inhaled deeply, just to be sure there was no ambient gassy odor. I mangled my hands getting off the two spring-loaded metal doors protecting the pilot valve.

Since the valve opening is back in the dark recesses of the heater's nether regions, I couldn't light it until I'd gone to the store and bought fireplace matches. They come in boxes of ninety, you know, so I should be able to light the pilot all through the coming winter.

Unlike the pilot at the old Home Office, this one stayed lit on the first try. I mangled myself once again putting the two doors back on and heard the heater roar to life when I turned the switch from "pilot" to "on." I'd really prefer not to have to do that very often.

As far as sleeping upstairs again goes, I don't think I'll try it tonight, since I can sleep in on Saturday morning anyway. I'm going back to the system that's been working for me, where I fall asleep upstairs and put myself to bed downstairs some time in the night.

But I now have a spare bed ready, in the event of out-of-town guests. It's just too bad they can't get here from there.

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