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Sunday musings

Yeah, as jed mentioned in a comment, it’s definitely been too quiet around here. I hope that means everybody’s having a relaxed, peaceful Thanksgiving weekend.


Tomorrow is the hump day in my two-month retreat. Mixed results so far. I’m glad I’m doing it, but instead of peacefulness, I’m actually feeling quite a lot of stress and anxiety. Partly that’s over decisions I need to make. Mostly it’s just a lot of “old stuff” coming back on me. Really, really old stuff. Like things I thought I’d moved past years ago.

Boring to go into, but I find myself longing for busy-ness.


It doesn’t help that the only real heater in the house has gone out twice in the last two weeks. Both times in the middle of the night. When the temps outside have been in the low 20s. And on weekends. I swear, it’s a conspiracy.

The first time I was able to get the heater working again after about seven hours of putzing. This time, it’s just dead. Not sure, but it may be a bad thermocouple. I hear that’s easy to replace, but on this model of propane fireplace the connection for it appears near-impossible to get to and there are no instructions, online or off.

So the critters and I sit surrounded by space heaters that (after having expended 3,000+ watts for many hours now) have raised the room temperature a grand, glorious TWO degrees from what it was at 1:00 a.m. when I noticed the fireplace had died.

It’s better in this one spot, though. So back to hanging sheets of plastic in doorways and archways, and I’ll keep working on that heater. Gonna be a colder day than this before I give in and call a service rep!

Anyhow, it’s a gorgeous sunny day. The darned sun doesn’t seem to be useful for much, but it’s pretty.

ADDED: This isn’t a bleg! After the year (and the roof) you guys gave me, I want for nothing. I’ll figure out that *&^%$#@ heater for myself.

ADDED-ADDED: Got it going again! Right now it’ll work only when nursed back to pilot-life, kept on pilot-only for five minutes, then rapidly turned to (and kept at) full blast. But that’s something …


When I get to feeling sorry for myself, I think about better people than I, who show grace and courage in the face of nature.

One of those is a lady who may or may not be reading this right now. Her husband was the reader of this blog. Just middle aged and full of life. Then he died a long, hard death (which he always said was harder on her than on him). They were each others’ true loves and had been together I don’t know how long.

I never met him, though he was for many, many years a cheerful member of the Commentariat and a supporter. Only as he approached death did I begin to learn that he’d actually been many different people online and in print — all fascinating people, but all so private I doubt anybody ever had a clue that those different identities belonged to one man.

He and his beloved were people of modest means. They lived a good life but never had much more than required to meet their needs. They always shared with others, though. For a long time, they knew they were going to come into some money. Not fabulous wealth, but enough to make them comfortable for the rest of their lives. The money was tied up in some sort of contracting tangles or for some other reason (I don’t know the details). For many years, I gather. Then suddenly it was freed up. Just a couple of months before he died.

Now she’s alone and, in her own words, “broken.” Despite having good friends and a big support network, nothing can “un-break” her. Nothing but time — and even with that there are no guarantees. Some people mourn forever.

And of course, she’s reminded of him wherever she turns. Sometimes the reminders come out of the blue. For instance, he used to love to send people a certain small luxury gift — the sort of thing few people would buy for themselves but that would delight them and make them feel pampered if it came from somebody else. The company noticed. A couple of months ago, shortly after his death and not knowing he was gone, they sent him one of those little luxuries as a thank you for being such a special customer. I can only imagine the mixture of wry humor and sorrow she felt opening that package.

Thing is, she has continued his legacy of giving — which was also her legacy. Terrible though she feels, hard though it is for her to get through long days and even longer nights, she keeps on thinking of others. I don’t know how many have benefited, both before and since his death, in ways both small and huge.

I only know she’s an amazing lady and a fitting partner for an amazing man. I only wish that she could take comfort in her own amazingness. I wish she could give that gift to herself. I hope time and nature will give her that.


  1. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal November 30, 2014 11:48 am

    Doesn’t it feel great to fix something- even if it’s just a temporary fix. Maybe the temporary fix will give you the time to fix it for good.

    Hugs to the Broken Woman. And I hope she can finally someday know some of the peace that I know he’d want for her. A kind person would never want her to keep suffering and feeling his loss. Yeah, easy to say, just about impossible to live. Best wishes to her.

  2. LarryA
    LarryA November 30, 2014 12:20 pm

    Mechanical devices have a character. Sometimes it likes you, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it thinks it’s being terribly funny.

    We had a car one time that would do anything I asked it to. But it hated my wife.

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty November 30, 2014 1:32 pm

    Thoughts and prayers for “broken woman.” I hope she can find peace and joy soon. My Joe died in 1986, and I miss him still every day. But I no longer mourn because that would not make him happy.

  4. Claire
    Claire December 1, 2014 6:03 am

    “Mechanical devices have a character. Sometimes it likes you, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it thinks it’s being terribly funny.”

    Oh so true. The other day, I couldn’t get a gas pump to dispense fuel. I did everything as normal, up to hitting the fuel selection button. At that point, nada. Hit it again. And again. Nada. Finally went inside and got the manager to help me. He hits the fuel selector button once and it works. No doubt he thought I was a stupid, inept woman. But it was really just the fuel pump showing “personality.”

    Today, again, the propane fireplace is “being terribly funny.” It worked all day yesterday, but a few minutes after I lowered the setting for the night, it died. Won’t come back at all now. Oh well, 54 degrees may not be cozy but it’s not (like Joels’s place) a matter of waking up with ice forming on the eyebrows. Thank heaven for space heaters, however inadequate.

  5. Matt, another
    Matt, another December 1, 2014 7:34 am

    Had a stand alone gas fireplace. It never worked as well as I thought it should. Worked full blast or not at all, required manual lighting everytime it was used. Got tired of it and gave it to my parents. They had the same problems. Dad, quite handy, couldn’t get it figured out. Brother-in-law a HVAC pro couldn’t figure it out over the phone either. Finally Dad gave in and called a proffesional. It needed a new igniter, and one wire was connected incorrectly. It was attached according to directions, but not in a way to make the heater work correctly. Less then a hundred dollars total and it works great and uses very little fuel to heat their living room.

  6. ConnieM
    ConnieM December 1, 2014 7:41 am

    Isn’t it funny how old things pop up when you get rid of the “busyness” that hides them?

  7. Claire
    Claire December 1, 2014 9:12 am

    ConnieM — Indeed. “Funny strange” but definitely not “funny ha ha.” I long to go back to the busyness, but I know that’s not the right answer.

  8. Claire
    Claire December 1, 2014 9:16 am

    Matt — Well, glad you got that solved. Eventually.

    In this case, the igniter is one of the few things I’m sure actually is working. I can see it spark. I’ve also cleaned out all the working parts with compressed air. Though there’s a slight possibility the problem is with the thermocouple and a slightly larger possibility it’s with the pilot assembly, more and more it’s looking to me as though there’s not enough gas pressure.

    All valves are open. The tank is still 38% full. Don’t see or smell any sign of leaking. But the stove seems not to be getting enough fuel now even to get the pilot lit.

    Unfortunately, if I have to get a service person in, it’ll be somebody from out of town and might be more than this little ventless fireplace is worth. Have contacted the propane company to see if they have any clues about low gas pressure.

    Also contacted the manufacturer about whether the pilot assembly is the culprit and where I can get a replacement. Can’t find one online for this model of stove.

  9. R
    R December 2, 2014 2:44 am

    If you can figure out how to take the pilot assembly out you may be able to get a replacment at Gensco, thy’re in Olympia and Bremerton. They pretend to be wholesale only but usually are willing to make over the counter sales. Your local hardware store or HVAC contractor is probably buying from them too if you don’t want to go for a drive.

  10. Claire
    Claire December 2, 2014 5:36 am

    R — Thanks for the tip. It appears that the pilot assembly can be removed pretty easily (crossing fingers). It would be nice if it turns out to be a common, off-the-shelf part.

  11. A.G.
    A.G. December 7, 2014 8:00 am

    I should have mentioned that with the help of family and friends I am doing much better than I was a couple of weeks back.



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