As I noted a few weeks ago, I bought a new furnace. The old one was, well, old - a quarter century - and it had some leaking parts. The water heaters were also from the same era, and one of them was leaking as well. Let’s get ahead of this before we’re shivering or mopping. I mean, the amount of money I have spent on the physical plant for this house is zero.

The guys showed up at 7 AM, as advertised, and set to work. My day consisted of restraining Birch. He is not unfriendly, but big men sometimes set him off. You never know when a dog catches an odd whiff and something triggers an instinct. I always give newcomers to the house a treat to give him, so everyone’s friends, but he wasn’t buying it. The noise! The guys had to take down all the pipes in the boiler room, and the sound of the saws shot right up to my studio and sang through the radiator.

At 9:30 I had someone come by to measure some windows for blinds. The blinds in daughter’s room are also of ancient vintage, and wife wanted nice new ones for the exchange student. (More on that later this month, of course.) At 10:30 an electrician came in to look at a busted under-counter light - a custom job I can’t fix, despite my Reddy Kilowatt avatar. So the house was full and the Amex was smoking. Well, I don’t eat out or buy fancy likker, and I’d budgeted long ago for home improvements.

At 4:30 they were done, and called me down to look.

This is the room, before. The wood on the walls, the thin boards, is original from 1915.

This is now.

The pipe work is just gorgeous. It's like a musical instrument that fell from favor.

Texted it to Daughter, who said it was like a dream of the furnace room; I said it looked as if burglars had come in and stolen the boiler and water tanks.

It’s an AMAZING piece of work. It’s hooked up to a Honeywell control system, which has a lousy app. Why in God’s name do they not know what a bad face this puts on the products? It’s like something from 2007.

But it works, and the idea of being able to control all HVAC aspects from the phone is nice.

Until, alas, it wasn’t.

The new system vents out of the window, instead of the chimney. I noticed on Thursday it was venting, a lot, and that seemed odd because I’d turned it down. Check the app: temps are higher than what was set. Rejigger. Go back to work. Walk outside at noon: still venting. House is getting warm. Check the boiler: all the lights are green, indicating it’s heating, and there’s a blinking icon that says the system is calling for heat. So, I shut off the system on the app, double-checked the thermostats.

And still she vents. House is getting hotter. I called the company that installed it, and because this is not the fargin’ Soviet Union in 1987, someone showed up 47 minutes later, examined the system, and pronounced the Honeywell control panel to be FUBAR. Someone would be by tomorrow at 9 to replace it.

He was crestfallen and sorrowful, and had to break the bad news: he had turned it all off, for now, and of course I could turn it back on if I got cold, but tomorrow morning I’d have to turn it on and wait 14 minutes for hot water for the shower.

Not 13; not 15. Fourteen minutes.

May Dis and all the Gods Below strike me mute if I ever complain about having to wait 14 minutes - not 13, not 15 - for morning hot water. You have absolutely lost perspective on existence if you get angry about that. Annoyed, sure, irritated, I guess, but what I find amazing is that someone installed it in a day, showed up to address concerns within an hour of being summoned, and would install a new computer module within 14 hours.

Or should I high-horse it and one-star them on Yelp?

No. No, I should not.



This being the first week of the month, it's Maisie time, and this being the third month, it's the third movie. See how that works?

Prior to this one, we'd had the strange initial entry, which went from comedy to domestic drama in a way I hadn't quite seen in movies of the era before, let alone a programmer. The second one, naturally, took Maisie to AFRICA. Uh okay. And now:

All Maisie movies must start with her stranded somewhere, which requires she gets along by her wits and gams.

This time she’s riding a flivver on a deserted road.


Good thing for her, there’s a terrifying ruined apparition nearby:


No one around. For a comedy, it's starting out rather . . . dark,

Since she’s dressed like a 19th century gal, I expect her to hit her head and go back in time; wouldn’t be completely unexpected for the franchise. But she finds a cabin, and we expect it’ll be occupied by he-man woman-hater who will eventually fall madly in love with her.

HA HA HA I wrote that before this:

He has a roommate:

Why is he reading a baby catalogue? Everything about this makes you want to yell RUN, MAISIE, but nah, she's going to bunk for the night and maybe make flapjacks in the morning, and hold 'em off with a line of tough patter.

But the guy who answers the door - Bill - softens up fast enough, because he hasn’t laid a hand on a woman in 7 years, probably. The old man - Fred - goes to sleep in the barn because he thought his pal understood people were trouble and women were people, and Bill goes to Maisie’s room with a bottle of liquor and says let’s sit on the bed and drink.

Maisie asks for coffee, and when he goes to get it, she locks the door. Because she doesn’t want to be raped. Comedy! Then she discovers there’s no bathroom except for the outhouse, and wolves are howling.


But! The next morning Bill is fixing her car, and she makes him breakfast,! Everything’s fine!

Well, no.

My God, what a horrible man. You really hope this isn't one of those they-pretend-to-loathe-each-other-to-hide-their-true-feelings things.

She gets out of there, but we know she’ll be back, because of love or trouble or both. Off to the club where she has a job waiting:

One of those old west Polynesian joints. While in the town of Truxon (checking . . . nope) she goes to a cafe . . .

I would have love to have been around to visit one of these places, but in the movies the husband-and-wife team that run them are always arguing . . .

It's . . . it's just a beaten-down world, isn't it? Remember: COMEDY.

Maisie hears from the diner owner that there was a gold rush 20 years ago, but the town in which it took place is now a GHOST TOWN. Clever gal that she is, she realizes that’s where she was at the start of the picture.

And now there are rumors there’s going to be another gold rush. And by rumors I mean “a conveniently placed newspaper in the diner.”

She gets an offer to ride to the town with a lecherous driver:


Anyway. She hooks up with the Joads, or the movie’s version thereof; a plain hardscrabble family moving around looking for work, and they all join the gold rush. At this point all comedy ceases, and as I’ve come to understand the series, this is normal: the opening tone is intended to be light, and then it gets serious as Good-Hearted Maisie Who is A Fish Out of Her Brooklyn Water makes things right.

They find gold . . .

But there’s a twist, and in the end we learn that the real gold is what’s in our hearts. Also, the jerk is redeemed, although his actions are inexplicable. There’s not enough time to give everyone fully formed characters. Apparently the movie had two directors; the first dropped out due to illness. Both would die young. The movie also two child actors, one of whom died in his forties from a barbiturate OD after a troubled life studded with comeback and backslides, the other which died at the age of 41 from a long-standing heart condition.

Something really dark hangs over this one.

Let’s hope Maisie gets stranded someplace nicer next time.

That'll do; off on another week. See you around.




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