According to SBpoet.com, the moon is “waxing gibbous,” which is to say 75% full. After a cloudy day, the sky is clear, which means that the heat will be radiating off the snow and out into space. (SB has posted a little purple bat for you to play with -- watch out, it has fangs!) According to the thermometer outside the bathroom window, it’s twenty degrees. According to the National Weather Service the low in Valier tonight will be four degrees. Combine cold with dry and you’ve got snow that is sublimating (going straight to unseen air vapor) rather than melting. It looks more like movie snow, that foam they use to look like snow which has round edges. I’ve been keeping the house at sixty. The cats have been staying on the new electric mattress pad. They promised not to use their claws, but anyway they’re on top of the comforter.
Tonight so far the best costumes were two twin boys who came as dice! There have only been a few kids -- no really little ones because it’s too cold for the parents to walk them around. A pickup pulls up, a couple of kids tumble out -- once it was only one little girl -- the kid comes to the door, gets the hand-out (breakfast bars -- not the gooey ones, the oaty ones -- that keeps the teenagers away), hurries back to the pickup and is barely in before the truck is rolling. The Eagle Speaker kids walked but they’re half-Navajo/half-Blackfeet, a hardy bunch, and they only live a block away.
Yesterday a dog came to the door and wanted to come in. I know the dog. It lives on the west edge of town, but as far as I know it’s never been here before. I told him, “Bad dog -- go home!” but it didn’t register. He said in dog, “Aw, c’mon! You’ll like me!” Crackers said something that can’t be put in a family blog.
Then there was a steady procession of political people. The Conrad Burns people were sheepish when I cussed. A radio program told about a carefully researched plan for a truly scary haunted house, based on psychological surveys and so on -- it made walls fall in on people and rats scurry around their feet. They even pumped in rat smell. They said one of the scariest things for adults is a clown. Conrad Burns has become a clown.
I hope no one thinks he was educated in Montana and that he speaks the way Montanans speak. In fact, he grew up in Missouri and came up here as an auctioneer. He’s always been cheerful about bribing the state with money for bridges or Malmstrom or whatever will bring in the votes. But he’s never been so obviously bribed himself. I’ve always wondered about Conrad Burns’ staff, which seems to operate somehow on the other side of a glass wall from Conrad. He never quite knows what they’re up to. My theory about recent history is that Conrad is old and sick, but his staff is not. The staff needs their jobs so they make it impossible for Conrad to quit by making sure he has lots of money and perqs.
All these hoof-in-mouth blunders that he makes, slurring people in a way he knows perfectly well not to -- even firefighters, for gosh sakes! -- is his subconscious trying to get him outta there. Something similar with Cheney. Even Bush. You can’t tell me that George and Laura Bush, as human individuals, want those jobs. I think they are screaming to escape in two years. What a horror show, to know what REALLY goes on! But too many people need them there. “Bush” is not a family -- it’s an international corporation.
My last caller before dark was a big man in bib overalls, rosy with cold from working to clean the sewers. These sewers have been scrubbed by a water pressure head crawling at the head of a hose all week, block by block. A camera watches from the other end of the block to make sure it’s not blasting out the side of the sewer, which is only crockery tiles a hundred years old.
A very scary thing is going to happen tomorrow. The man came to tell me not to use any drains or the toilet from 9AM to 5PM because they’re going to try to install the slip-lining for the main trunk of the Valier sewer, which goes in front of my house. This slip-liner is a soft hose that will be “slipped” through flat, then inflated, then heated to harden it and make the lining. No one knows whether it will really work or what it will do to the connections that feed in from our houses. I still don’t know how they will allow the connections to connect to the main line. Have they precut holes? Everyone is quite vague. But if I have to replace my own sewer line, it may cost as much as $1,000.
I’ll close with a nifty little story from Jim Stebbings:
Two men were walking home after a Halloween party and decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery just for laughs. Right in the middle of the cemetery, they were startled by a tap-tap-tapping noise coming from the misty shadows.
Trembling with fear, they found an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones.
"Holy cow, Mister," one of them said after catching his breath, "You scared us half to death. We thought you were a ghost! What are you doing working here so late at night"?
"Those fools!" the old man grumbled. "They misspelled my name!"
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