Hubby caved in.  It was not the sight of self, Dear Wifey, shivering on the couch with piles of blankets tucked around her, but the sight of Bella, our older dog, trembling on her doggy cushions, that persuaded him to allow self to call a furnace specialist to restore heat to our humble abode.

So, this morning, bright and early, self called her “go-to” person for all handyman-type questions, friend Sandy, who recently completed a $100,000 re-model of her Menlo Park home.  Sandy recommended Guy Plumbing.  Self called over there, and was told that Guy doesn’t “do” floor furnaces.  There was one company, only one, that still worked on those antiquated machines, and that turned out to be Redwood Plumbing, right in self’s neck of the woods.

So self called over to Redwood Plumbing, and was told that there had been quite a rash of service calls in the last few days; the specialists were up to their gills in work, and no one would be able to come out until Wednesday morning.  Self made the appointment, and as she was getting ready to spell her last name, the saleswoman said she could look and see if self had ever made a previous service call, and that would save self the bother of spelling her name.

“I’m pretty sure we’re not in your records,” self told the saleswoman.

“Oh, well, just let me check,” the woman said.  “Sometimes people forget.”

“No, I am very sure we’ve never called for repairs,” self said.

The woman was amazed.  “What, you have a superman-type furnace?  In all these years, you’ve never needed a repair?”

“Nope, never,” self replied.

“Well, I’ll be,” the woman said.  “That’s amazing.”

Which it truly is, dear blog readers.  Self’s tiny cottage was built in 1939.  The furnace is still the original one that was installed at that time.  And in spite of oodles and oodles of dog hair falling through the grate and settling in a fine rain over the flues and pipes, the furnace has manfully poured out heat, for almost half the year, from the time hubby and self bought the house, in 1992, until now.

Poor old thing.  Must be sooo tired.

The other thing that is making self feel happy today?  She got a “nice” rejection in the mail, with three sentences hand-written.  And “The Day the Earth Stood Still” opened huge last weekend, so self has yet another movie to see over the holidays.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Transcript of an Actual Conversation that Took Place in Redwood City this Evening

. . .  between self and one of her brothers in Manila.

Rrrring, rrrring, rrring!

Self:  Hello, nand’yan si Jun?

Maid:  Sandali lang, ho.  Titingnan ko.

Self (humming)

Jun:  Batchoy!

Self:  Jun!

Jun:  What’s up?

Self:  Ahh, ahhh, I thought I’d call since I’ll be there soon . . .

Jun:  You’re coming?  Here?

Self:  Yes.

Jun:  When?

Self:  On January 6.

Jun:  Why didn’t you tell us?

Self:  Ahhh, ahhh, I believe I told Mom.  Last June.  She didn’t tell you?

Jun:  No.

Self:  Ahh, ahhh, well, it’s a good thing I called, then!

Jun:  Why don’t you stay with us in Alabang?

Self:  Well, actually, that’s the reason for my call.  I was talking to Mom yesterday and she said that you and Myla have this vacant apartment next to the Mandarin . . .

Jun:  Unfurnished.

Self:  What?

Jun:  It’s unfurnished.  There isn’t even a bed there.

Self:  Oh.  I.  See.  (Tee-hee!)  That is funny.

Jun:  We were going to have it furnished, but we haven’t started yet.

Self:  Oh, ahhh, ha ha, it’s OK, I will stay with Yoo-Hoo then (Inside:  scream).

After this very illuminating conversation, self scurried to the living room, intent on venting to hubby.  But the Dear Man raised a hand before self could even get out the words:  “Guess what!”

On the flat-screen HDTV, an announcer was saying something very important about THE FUTURE OF FOOTBALL COACH CHARLIE WISE AT NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY.

Self counted to 10.  Slowly, like so:  One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, onte-thousand-three (feeling somewhat like River Phoenix in that Indiana Jones installment where he played “young Indie” to Sean Connery’s wise old papa)

To his credit, hubby has had a very stressful day:  this morning he discovered (while self was out doing the groceries) that the reason our house is so cold is that:  OUR FLOOR FURNACE DOES NOT WORK.

Yes indeed, dear blog readers:  this product of Stanford Engineering School actually TOOK A FLASHLIGHT and peered into the depths of the canyon that is our floor heater, and pronounced that there was no pilot light.

And the whole rest of the day, he sat on the couch, lamenting our inability to have the furnace fixed because of lack of funds.  (Self thinks it is genius, absolutely genius that she anticipated this problem by booking a trip to the Philippines in three weeks.  Who knew, dear blog readers, who knew that self had ESP???)  In the meantime, self sat meekly beside hubby, the picture of wifely forebearance, trying to keep her teeth from chattering.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Eavesdropping: Salon Book Awards 2008

Salon.com just announced their 2008 Book Awards.  Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 is on it, of course.

Here are the books self is interested in reading after perusing Salon’s list of five fiction and five non-fiction winners:

  • Tana French’s The Likeness:  “Ostensibly a detective novel, French’s follow-up to her 2007 novel, In the Woods is, like that earlier book, wilfully disobedient to the dictates of genre . . . “
  • Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances:   “In Galchen’s wryly elegant tale, Leo Liebenstein, a New York psychiatrist, suddenly decides that his beloved wife, Rema, has been replaced by a near-perfect impostor.”
  • Philip Hensher’s The Northern Clemency:  “This sprawling, satirical novel of intersecting suburban families is set in Sheffield, England, from 1974 to the mid-90s, and its author is firmly committed to reproducing the textures of that world, from the pretentious hors d’oeuvres served by an aspiring middle-class housewife (“mushroom vol-au-vents”) to the white formica and smoked brown glass of a neighbor’s furniture “unit.”
  • Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher:  A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective:   “Part true-crime narrative, part cultural history, Summerscale’s exploration of a notorious case of child-murder in 1860 is above all an inquiry into our lasting fascination with detectives and detective stories.”

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