Thursday, February 13 2014
This morning when Gretchen went downstairs for the first time, she found the front door had swung open about two feet, leaving a triangle of snow about a quarter inch deep on the tiles. Evidently she'd failed to adequately latch the front door when returning from her poetry group, and as winds from the approaching snow storm kicked up, they'd managed to force the door inward. The result was that the temperatures had fallen throughout the first floor, causing the various zones (all of which are normally set at 50 degrees) to begin circulating hot water. From my perspective, it was as if the tank holding our fuel oil had sprung a temporary leak. I hate things like this because they give me new things to be neurotic about. What if we're in the tropics, the door is inadequately closed by one of our housesitters, and swings open and lets out all the heat? I don't want to have to think about such things on vacation. I wondered if perhaps a temperature-based alarm set near the front door would work. But it turns out that alarms designed to go off when temperature falls below a certain threshold all tend to be expensive. And by expensive, I mean costly enough to justify me just building such an alarm using an ATTiny programmed in the Arduino environment.
Though the door not being latched had probably been a failure on Gretchen's part, last night I'd also been remiss in my usual evening chores. Normally I add a piece of wood to the fire before going to bed, and if I'd done so, I likely would have noticed the door being either ajar or unlatched (often the addition of that final piece of wood involves a trip to the woodshed). Indeed, I'd been so resistant to leaving the house for any reason that I'd actually made use of the upstairs bathroom for the purposes of numero dos, something I always go to the brownhouse for (unless the need arrived as I was preparing to climb into the bathtub).
There was already a good amount of snow on the ground this morning, and it continued to fall throughout the day. For Gretchen and me, we celebrated it as a snow day, making an unusual non-Sunday french press (actually, I made two french presses) of coffee and huddling with the animals by the fire. For some reason Gretchen was inspired to make pancakes, something she normally only does when we have guests who have spent the night.
In the evening when nature called, I couldn't bring myself to go out into the blizzard to trudge through two foot drifts of snow, so I made use of one of the basement bathrooms. Meanwhile, my urinal system has been frozen for many days and I've had to resort to pissing in bottles. This is the first winter that the urinal system has been frozen and useless the majority of the time.
In response to a truly appalling law in the process of being passed in Kansas (one that would allow businesses to refuse products and services to gay people), I had my Facebook troll Suzy post a story about a friend of hers who works for the Waynesboro Rescue Squad and, in the course of responding to an emergency, found him or herself in the house of two men living together "that way." The question Suzy posed was whether or not her friend should have to provide assistance in such a case, and was or was not religious freedom a myth in this country. This precipitated a firestorm of responses among her "friends" (most of whom live in the Sheneandoah Valley of Virginia). All of them (with the exception of one of her troll friends, one not controlled by either Sara Poiron or me) wrote to tell her that it was a horrible thing to ask and that emergency personnel are supposed to take care of anyone no matter who they are. That's the sane response, but the truth of the matter is that the Kansas law that inspired this whole thing is worded in a way that would allow an emergency responder to stand aside and do nothing while a gay person dies. Because of the paramount importance of "religious freedom." Remember: religion is supposedly the source of all of our morality.
Suzy got unfriended by about six or seven of her 180 friends, and I thought that was the end of it. But then I found that Suzy's account had been flagged as possibly "not real." Facebook then quizzed her about the identities of her friends. Pictures were shown and she was asked to make identifications. Since I don't know most of her "friends," I was pretty bad at this. It helped that her "friend" Tommy (another of my trolls) has a lot of the same friends and I could look through his profile in hopes of identifying unknown faces. You'd think Google Image Search might be helpful in a case like this, but Google's spiders don't reach very deep into Facebook profiles (if at all). Though I put a lot more work into trying to make these identifications than I would like to admit, I failed to get back into Suzy's account. Truth be known, the facial identification quiz (and the various "cheats" I was trying) felt more like a game that was fun to play than a stern rebuke by the crime-fighting robots of Facebook.
I stayed up especially late watching teevee and fell asleep snuggled with Ramona on the teevee room couch. On some occasion in the night, Gretchen woke up and checked her email, whereupon she discovered that Walter (the cat who had escaped from our house about a month ago) had been found alive and been returned to Project Cat. It seems he'd taken refuge beneath a porch at the house of a neighbor (two doors north of the Fussies across the road, not more than 300 feet away). Nobody had actually seen him, but the people at that house had set up a webcam and managed to confirm that one of the cats leaving tracks in the snow was him. (Clarence was probably one of the other cats leaving tracks.) So then the Project Cat people had put out a live trap baited with roast chicken and, during today's blizzard, managed to catch him. Walter had weighed fifteen pounds when we'd adopted him, but after living outdoors in perhaps the coldest 30 days in the last 20 years, he was down to eight pounds. It's possible he hadn't eaten anything at all in all that time. Walter will probably spend the rest of his days at Project Cat, where he seemed to be the most charismatic of its feline residents. Meanwhile, Gretchen had agreed to pay the $300 reward to whoever found him, so she'd be getting on that.
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