The house does not heat evenly. For many years it's just gotten into moods, and decided that some rooms will be as cool as the tomb in October, and others boil. My office was very hot for a few years. I loved it. No more. Why? Who knows? The thermostats are mysterious, really; it's hard to say what they do. Had a guy in a few years ago who fixed them all, but they're not doing the same thing anymore. This is impossible. The switches on the boiler cannot rewire themselves. The switches cannot say "you want to take that signal for a while? Thanks."

Daughter's room is cold, and that's a problem. The windows are a problem, and they're not old. The baseboard heating, installed in the 60s or 70s when the addition went on, doesn't do a good job.

Can we go Michael's?

The craft store? Sure. Why?

I am going to make a tie blanket for my COLD ROOM.

Or a thai blanket. Something she saw on the internet. I picked her up from the brunch and we went to Michael's, which is full of Craft Stuff. Long rows of stickers for people to put in scrapbooks their kids will prize and their grandkids will regard with diminished emotion and a slight, almost imperceptable sense of burden, accompanied by gratefulness and guilt. They won't be able to throw it out. They won't want to. Among the great-grandkids there will be one who eventually becomes the family archivist, and you can only hope they'll hang on to it. By then the stickers will flake off if touched, and it has to be opened carefully. By then no one will know the people in the pictures. They should make these books so they start ticking after 100 years, and that's your clue to take out the pictures you want to keep, because after it's ticked for a day it self-immolates. Sighs of relief all around.

After a while she realized that this was the wrong store. She meant Jo-Ann's, which is possibly Michael's wife, so we went there. I can't stand the store. Not just crafts but fabrics, and on the weekend there are dozens and dozens of women standing at the Cutting Table holding bolts, waiting their turn. This is a place for people who make pillows. Throw pillows that go in the guest room. A heap of eight throw pillows that sit on the bed in the guest room until a guest comes, and knocks them all off, because for god's sake you can't sleep with these things, they're like decorative boulders in front of the cave where you seek refuge from the storm.

The line to check out is also a mile long. Daughter could not determine which color she wanted for her Thaie Blanket; I wandered around the more interesting bolts, taking pictures I could use for phone wallpaper.

This isn't my style, but it's fall-like:


And I like this too, even though I wouldn't want to live around it:

Ugly but evocative.

Told Daughter I was going to Target, and she should text when she's done. You see, I needed something at Target to replace the things that were coated in the most persistent, unusual mud we have ever encountered. And that requires me to back up to the previous day, when Daughter said her room was cold and I said I would see what I could do.

I went down to the boiler room and felt the pipes, and found a cold one. It had two valves in the closed position.

The last time you turned these, water came out said a voice in my head. So of course I turned one on. Water gushed up the pipe, but didn't come out of the valve. The overflow valve, I should note. That's what it said. I felt the pipe, and it was warm; I went upstairs to feel the radiator, and see if it came to life.

Something something / laundry folding / something / image resizing / something scanning / whatever

Fixed myself a Scotch, and realized I only drink Scotch on Fridays. Gave it to my wife. Asked her if Daughter was downstairs.

I don't know, she said. I thought I heard her down stairs, but then I heard the shower going. It sounded like the shower was going downstairs though.

Uh. Hmm. Crap.

Down the stairs four at a time, into the boiler room. Yes, water. Yes, lots of it. Close the damned valves, get up anything that needs to be dry - which of course is EVERYTHING, but there's just shoes down there, boots, all the wife and daughter's boots which number about 346; AHHHH there's that big box her mother sent, it's all linens and tablecloths and placemats. Push it out of the way. There was a pizza box ready to go out to the trash, and I knocked it off the shelf and it floated, like one of those modern paintings in the Titanic stateroom in the movie. (Which bothered me, because one of them - the Picasso - did not perish with the ship.)

Well, Wife comes down and gives a little shriek; Daughter comes down, alarmed. Dog comes down, curious.

"Nothing is broken," I say. "A valve was opened that wasn't supposed to be open."

"How did that happen?"

Well, you see, we had a very crafty, silent vandal who jimmied the garage door, crept up the tunnel, picked the lock, opened the valves, then retreated without leaving a trace. "I opened them. I will explain later. Nothing's ruined."

The carpet by the door was soaked, though, so Wife and Daughter soaked up the water with many towels while I mopped up the boiler room.

"At least the floor's clean now!" I said. Wife is kicking herself for not investigating the noise, and wondering why there was a shower downstairs, but she's tired and has a cold, and had A) walked the dog for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon and B) played tennis, so her incuriosity was perfectly understandable. As it happens, it worked out great, because once I heard "sounds like a shower" all the klaxons went off and I sprang into action.

That's me, man of action.

The next day we discovered the water went down the back steps into the tunnel, and deposited a remarkable amount of silt. This was either water from the boiler or silt left by shoes, of which as I said there are several hundred. So Sunday was spent swabbing the tunnel, and that meant the garage had to be swabbed, and when it tried there was still evident silt so I had to swab it again, with Febreze Flavored Mr. Clean, which really does impart a wonderful perfume. So there's that. But when it tried the floor of the garage had the character of the Sahara as seen in dazzling sunlight, or rather the unsparing morgue-room light of the garage bulbs. It was just as bad. It's ineradicable.

So, I guess we have to move.



In the basement on a shelf of old metal toys:

You know what always bugged me when I was a tyke? Printed details. Things that were supposed to be real, but weren't.

The driver seems sad. Wonder if that bothered him too.





Well, look who: little miss Creepy Bread - with tips! Tired of wasting your wife? Start saving your wife!

That's a loaf of bread stuffed with minced ham and ONION RINGS, thereafter drenched with cheese sauce. Sounds damned good, if you ask me.

More on our breadly mascot here, if you're unaware of her existence.


As gusts threaten the lives of all, Willie rallies the lads with promise of liquor:

From this site, I hoovered up and enhanced a drawing of the bar.

More Willie here; he had many manifestations. In the world of bygone mascots, he is but one of the nautical types. The only one that remains is probably that Fish Captain, wearing the traditional slicker.

You wouldn't be able to tout your brand with a whaler today.

Smoke without smoking!

You'll try them and feel better about yourself and even get a little smug about it all, and tell yourself you're glad you don't smoke cigarettes any more. These are much better.

You'll go back to Winstons in a week.


Nowadays we frown on people who vionate pets.

Squibb? Dog vitamins? They made people vitamins, and probably just thought what the hell, brand 'em for Fido and see if they sel.

Of course, dogs can't chin themselves under any circumstances, so lawsuits probably nixed the brand.

The New Yorker, obviously:



Explorer 6, or S-2, was an American satellite launched on August 7, 1959. It was a small, spheroidal satellite designed to study trapped radiation of various energies, galactic cosmic rays, geomagnetism, radio propagation in the upper atmosphere, and the flux of micrometeorites. It also tested a scanning device designed for photographing the Earth's cloud cover, and transmitted the first pictures of Earth from orbit.



You do understand why I said obviously, no? Don't be ashamed if you don't. It's a typography thing, and as such is familiar only to those familiar with the magazine and its unvarying design staples. Eustace Tilly will be transgendered in a year or two, but they typeface will remain the same.

Tiny happy heads agree:

Go ahead, Mr. Shopkeeper. Just try to mark that price up.


I've had one from this series before. There was a time when you could actually say this.

Pink is just for girls. You're a girl, aren't you? Such simple times. Whalers and pink.

The more you look at it, the more you realize that barrel couldn't have been too comfortable.

Something no kid ever said:


The key to learning more: Made with Nylon Tricot by Beaunit. Googling.


Beaunit was opened by DuPont Company in 1950 to manufacture rayon, the world’s first manmade fiber that was used in apparel, household furnishings, and industry.

The plant sits on 300 acres. It was part of the original 13,500 acre that once served as a U.S. Military Reservation and Alabama Ordinance Works. At one time operations included a 710,000 square foot plant, a power plant, and a $1.5 million reservoir.

Closed in 1971. But someone got there before it was razed . . . and took pictures.



There you go: see you around.



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