Sunday, December 20 2009
There was a huge snow storm coming up the East Coast from the southwest, dumping enormous amounts of snow on places like Roanoke, Virginia and Washington, DC. My parents got 24 inches of snow in Staunton, Virginia, and Gretchen's got 22 inches in Silver Spring, Maryland. There was also plenty of snow in Philadelphia, New York City, Long Island, and Boston. But here in Hurley, New York, 100 miles from the coastline, we only received a dusting perhaps a quarter inch deep.
For the past few days I've been painting the inside walls of the brownhouse with a slightly-purplish red semigloss. The paint is much more transparent than I'd expected, so I've had to paint it many times to get a suitable color saturation. It actually looks pretty good this way, with the white primer reflecting back different amounts of luminance through multiple layers of red, each of a random thickness.
This particular December is quickly taking shape as a cold one even by the standards of this climate. Take for example the indoor urine plumbing system, which takes urine from two flushless urinals (one in the laboratory and one in the garage) and dumps it in a five gallon bucket near the northeast corner of the house. It's normal for the outdoor part of this system to freeze solid in the winter, at which point the urine overflows into a tank in the garage. What's less usual is for it to get so cold in the garage itself that the whole system fails. That didn't happen once in the winter of 2007-2008, though it happened several times in the winter of 2008-2009. But that was during the coldest part of that winter, from mid-January to early February. This year, the system has already frozen solid once (if briefly) and it's not even officially winter yet.
For this reason, I've decided it's not a huge setback that the 30 gallon cistern in the brownhouse began freezing yesterday and continued to do so today. The combination of intense cold and a lack of sunlight means that there have been no opportunities for the brownhouse to gain solar heat during the daytime, and so the cistern can begin to freeze. It would take days for the cistern to freeze solid, but were it to do so I fear it might split its sides. For this reason, and also because I wanted to encourage my latest layer of red paint to dry, today I ran an electric space heater inside. It took only a few minutes for the heater to raise the cabin temperature well into the 70s.
This evening Gretchen and I went over to Penny and David's place for dinner and drinks. We ended up stuffing ourselves on crackers and dips followed by vegan nachos, and so didn't have much room for the stir fry that had been intended, though David eventually made some anyway. There was a plan to maybe watch a movie, but that almost never happens when we visit Penny and David. We usually sit around drinking increasingly strong beverages and talking, talking, talking.
Meanwhile, my self-education of American movie history continues. Today I began watching the classic mafia flick The Godfather, which I'd never seen. What struck me was that the various mafia characters, instead of being portrayed as flamboyant bad asses, seemed more like impulsive, insecure children. I'm sure that actual mafiosi are even less bad ass and even more insecure and immature than even this portrayal implies.
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