Sunday, February 25 2001
The cold and rain continues unabated here in usually sunny Southern California, and about the only cure, in theory, is a nice warm fireplace. My condo actually has a fireplace, but where does one get the wood one would normally burn in a fireplace? There are a palm trees and Eucalyptus in the city and there are evergreens in the forested mountains, but none of these species make for very good firewood. Still, John thought he could recall seeing shrink-wrapped bags of firewood at Ralph's, and today he decided he wanted to start a fire in the fireplace. So he and I went to Ralph's on a firewood run. We looked around and there were no shrink-wrapped bundles of firewood. Perhaps that's a seasonal rarity one sees during the holiday season. As I'd suspected, natural firewood simply cannot be found in California. In California, the fuel one burns in fireplaces is a brick of some sort of factory-compressed substance that one digs up out of the ground or extracts from the La Brea tarpits. John bought a couple of these artificial fire logs, joking the whole time about them being "California firewood." We're both from the forested East and we find the notion hilarious.
Next we drove to John's sister Maria's new place to pick up Maria because she was bored and needed to do her laundry. Now she lives in a large apartment complex just to the south of the corner of Barrington and Santa Monica. The new place looks exactly like the old place where she used to live, although the counters are made of genuine granite. Anyway, Maria's blond female housemate was cute enough for John to remark on her later, and one of the housemate's girlfriends was over, and when that girl shook your hand she squeezed it so fucking tight that it required some additional special commentary of its own.
Back at our place, John discovered that a little nob to the left of the fireplace didn't, as we'd thought, control the flue. Instead it turned on an audible hiss of something that smelled a lot like natural gas. It turns out that the fireplace is gas powered, and we'd had no idea. The "California firewood" purchase had been completely unnecessary. Anyway, for the rest of the day we couldn't believe how much more habitable the fireplace made the entire downstairs. We also took turns burning various things in the fire. I also melted a few zinc-cored pennies just to prove it was possible. (This doesn't work with pennies made before 1980-something; those pennies are solid copper and require an extremely hot flame to melt.)
We ordered a pizza from the Pizza Hut down on the corner of Amherst and Santa Monica and I walked down there in the rain and picked it up myself and even paid for it (since this is the weekend of my legendary generosity).
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