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Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Unfortunately, I had to explain to the Boss yesterday why we wouldn't be receiving the latest overdue check.

"There's no mail today. It's a holiday."

"What holiday is it?" he wanted to know.

"Martin Luther King's birthday."


The Boss is a civil engineer, and a very good one. He reads, but crime novels and true crime stories only. I don't believe he reads a newspaper or gets any news from radio or television. He's the least politically aware person I know. On election night, he called for some left-field reason and wondered why I was so distracted.

"I've been watching the election returns."

"Oh," he said, feigning interest. "Who's winning?"

I think he probably has a vague awareness of who Dr. King was. I doubt that he knows why yesterday was a holiday; he might not even believe that it was, although if I told him the sky had turned purple, he'd probably believe that. It's something I have to deal with, although (thankfully) not very often.

So I had to let the Boss know there would be no mail yesterday. This also meant that I had no excuse to leave my desk and run to the post office, so I had to think of another reason. I depend on getting out for at least a half hour every morning. It keeps me from being a total hermit, although I come close to it.

Also, I don't get the paper delivered here, because they refuse to bring it the hundred yards or so from the street to my door. Rather than pull it out of the mud every morning and wait to read it until it's dry, I buy it off the stand in front of Food 4 Less, then walk the three blocks to the post office from there.

Yesterday in particular, I wanted to go to the ATM to deposit my paycheck and get enough cash back for bread and milk. I could have done it after work, but for some reason, without the usual compelling reason to run my errands at 10:15 am, that's exactly when I needed to go.

It turned out I didn't need an excuse. I went to the ATM, the grocery store, and the newspaper rack, and I was home within a half hour, as usual. Since there were no messages on the answering machine when I returned, I didn't have to defend my absence.

Believe it or not, that was the best thing that happened all day. I spent an hour or so plunging out the toilet for the second day in a row. Stuff I thought was long gone kept coming back, like gophers in an arcade game. I think maybe the storm last week affected the septic system in some way, and I only hope it sorts itself out soon. I had to change my socks in the middle of the day because the tap water I was carrying from the tub to the toilet kept slopping over.

And the vacuum refused to pick up all the dried mud I tracked in last week, despite my efforts to scrape it off before I ever hit the white carpet. I kept newspapers just inside the door, a place to leave my shoes before walking through the room. Somehow, though, it wasn't a hundred percent effective, and now I have to find a rug cleaner that will take up tacky, ground-in mud. And for some reason I doubt that was the last storm of winter.

Besides, it was a nasty kind of day. The sun was shining, but that only made the icy wind seem that much colder and more menacing. You look out the window and it looks like spring, and then you walk out the door and it feels like winter. In Bemidji. If I were really in Bemidji, (a) it wouldn't look that summery, and (b) I'd be dressed for the chill in the air.

Oh, and (c) I have no idea what I'm talking about, because I've never been to Bemidji. It's probably colder than Sonoma County in January, though. That'd be my guess.

I went through an hour or two of feeling sorry for myself over these petty annoyances. I sort of crawled into a hole until I felt the coast was clear. And that was that. I don't have real problems (that I know of).

And hey! The sun came out again this morning, the birds are back in the garden, the Boss will be on the road the rest of the week, Ella's on the CD player, I'm going out to lunch today. And the toilet just flushed cleanly for the first time in three days! I mean, really, who could ask for anything more?

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Those ants that invaded my pants, finis.
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more.