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March 5, 2000
a year ago
two years ago

Coping

I had no reason to get up this morning. I didn't have anything planned to do, there wasn't anyone I was going to meet, and nothing I particularly had to do. Fezzik, on the other hand, had entirely different ideas. He came to the bedroom door and whimpered at me at 5 a.m. in the morning, and wouldn't leave until I let him outside. So I did, and then he started barking around 8, banging to be let inside, so I let him inside. Then, around 9, he decided he wanted out again, and I finally gave up on trying to sleep some more and actually left the warm bed.

I made Fezzik breakfast, and then fried myself an egg while toasting a slice of frozen bread. As infrequently as we use bread, it's best that we keep frozen, as it almost always spoils when we leave it out. I almost never eat sandwiches, and John now gets lunch in meetings for most of the week. The thing I really use bread for anymore is toast for breakfast and bread crumbs for coating things to fry. The extra simple breakfast was very good, as the egg was one of the Short eggs, from their farm. The yoke was as red as ever, and tasted wonderful.

On the Food TV network, I'd seen someone make an extra-rich hot chocolate by adding immense amounts of cocoa and real bittersweet chocolate to hot milk. So I decided to try the same thing, and put a cup of milk in a pot, added plenty of cocoa and sugar and then cooked it until it thickened. It turns out that in cocoa there is starch, which actually thickens when it cooks if there is enough cocoa. The resultant mass was rich, thick, and entirely too much for me to handle for breakfast. I added more hot milk until it was not quite so rich, and then drank it with my breakfast.

Right as I was finishing breakfast, the phone rang. It was John. It was really nice to hear his voice and find out that he was doing just fine. The flight had been uneventful, and he'd even found a train to Grenoble from Paris that worked much better than his original plans. It was nice to hear him cheerful and happy and safe.

Heartened by the phone call, I decided to do the oil change on the Passat. I drove up to Longmont to find oil that met diesel specifications. I was only able to find one type of oil that actually had the API CD rating, so I bought for bottles of that to use. The morning was just gorgeous, and I was wearing shorts, and very comfortable with it. I wandered into the Safeway right next to the car parts shop, and bought a quart of vanilla ice cream for later, as it was so warm out the thought of ice cream felt really good. The checkout lady was astonished by how many people were wearing shorts today, and wanted to get out into the beautiful weather. We wished each other good days, and I drove back to home.

Once home, I searched through John's tool boxes to find the right socket wrench for the drain plug in the oil pan. The plug was huge, and after wiggling under the car numerous times to try various sockets, I found out that it was the 19 mm one. I then found the oil pan to catch the old oil, a couple of cloths for wiping various things, including my hands, and then struggled with trying to loosen the plug. While I was getting all these things, clouds started blowing in from the West. The sky started to get dark, and the wind really started to pick up. The Passat is fairly low slung, and I was having difficulty getting under it. The space under there was so small that I couldn't get more than one hand in any position to use the socket wrench. There was also a plastic cover over the oil pan, which precluded anything larger than just the socket getting near the plug, so I couldn't use anything to give me better leverage, besides, I couldn't get to hands near enough to hold a longer bar near the socket. That's when I realized that there was a layer of oil on the bottom of the actual oil pan, which I hadn't seen because of the plastic cover. That meant there was a leak somewhere, and given how much torque I was having to apply to the plug it was likely that the crush gasket under the plug had been torqued down too hard. I didn't have a replacement.

I was also managing to mess up my right wrist by pulling as hard as I was. The combination of all the problems, plus the fact that the wind was picking up hard enough to blow all kinds of small debris through the air, and I realized I probably had to give up. I didn't want to be out in a wind storm, when the small gusts were already throwing rocks around. I also didn't want to take the Passat apart and have no way of getting it to garage if I found that the oil pan threads had been stripped. It wasn't a likely thing, but I was past the point of dealing with it. Instead, I gathered up all the tools, put them safely in the garage in their places, and then went inside, tackled Fezzik, and then cried all over him.

Poor dog. He actually suffered it quite well, and licked me when I would let him and where I would let him.

I think I was actually crying is much for the fact that I was alone, without John to talk to or figure this out with as anything. It finally hit me that I was going to be on my own, by myself, for the rest of the week and that I couldn't depend on him for the parts of my life that I was used to him taking care of for that time. I cried for a good half-hour, and during that entire time the wind picked up even more. Things outside started rattling, a few things started banging against the walls. Fezzik would get up and investigate all the banging noises, and look to me to see if I was okay. Occasionally, I would actually go out and bring things into the house so that they didn't go and bang against the walls. When I did go outside the wind was a force that I had to compensate for in order to stay up. So the two of us retreated into the house.

With the worst of the loose stuff secured, there was no reason to go out, and I settled down to read Mary Gentle's A Secret History: The Book of Ash #1. Trip recommended the book, along with a few other folks of the Horde, and I found it fascinating. I really enjoyed all the details of mercenary life at that time, even as gory, violent, and deadly as it was. I've never been as much interested in history as I've been interested in what it might have felt like to live in those times. There were dry sections of academic interest and industry between the vividly written first person story sections, and I couldn't really focus on the academia. I just wasn't interested.

The house moaned and shook, while the wind howled outside, and Fezzik lay at my feet, occasionally looking up when there were loud noises. We generally kept warm and safe. It was surprising, because normally, even when the wind is high, we don't hear it in the house. So there were some extraordinary winds coming down from the mountains for me to hear it in the living areas of house. Eventually, however, the wind died down. And right at twilight the wind was just a whisper, so I found Fezzik's leash and the two of us went for a walk in the neighborhood.

The sky was violet and pink all along the western horizon, overhead it was clear and powder blue fading to purple. There were wisps of clouds all along the eastern plains, and air was crisp and clear. Fezzik bounced along happily, jogging and sometimes running for short distances before waiting for me to catch up. He usually just walks with me, so it was a fun show of exuberance on his part. I guess being cooped up in the house all day was boring for him, and he was happy to be out, even for a little while.

Once we got back home, I made myself an ice cream shake and then got to work making myself some dinner. I first fed Fezzik, and then chopped procutto and some onion, and cracked an egg while boiling water. I fried the onion and procutto together until they were fragrant, added some frozen peas, and then cooked angel hair in the boiling water. With a pasta was done, I dumped it into the pan and poured the beaten egg over it and mixed vigorously. The heat from the pasta cooked the egg perfectly, and the resulting pasta carbonara was perfectly savory and creamy with the rich egg. A really nice dinner made very quickly.

There was a power glitch while I was in the midst of cooking, and everything blinked out for a moment and blinked back on. I went to the bedroom and found my candle lantern, which I lit. Since the stove is gas, it would stay alight even if the power went out, so I could cook by candlelight. Luckily, the power stayed on.

I finished up the evening by listening to Geoff's gift of a CD by Portishead. The music was haunting, melodies and mumbled lyrics all mixed in together to form a mood.

When I actually went to sleep, I went out like a light.

Brought to you by Dragon System's Point & Speak.

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