Cold and Smoky and Lightless and But Quite Miserable (And Most Decidedly Not Dead, By Some Strange Stroke of Luck)

It’s been a few days since my last update. On Thursday the power cut out sometime in the afternoon, so I decided to go into town and pass the time. Usually it cuts back in during the evening, so I figured it would be okay. I ran into my Kazakh-American friend and we had some chai and dinner, and then I headed back to the house. Luckily, the power was on that night.

Friday was a different story: the power cut out in the morning, but I just stayed in and read some Don Quixote until I was too chilly (from not moving) to stay in the house any longer. Then I took off for town, figuring the power would cut back in sometime Friday evening. I got back to the house around 9pm, climbed the icy stairs—for all Friday it had snowed—and then found all the lights out in the house. Meaning: the power hadn’t cut back in. I guess when the poower cuts due to snow, it takes longer to come back on.

A lot longer. Saturday was freezing, the slush falling from the sky, and all day, no power, and very little effective heat from the sawdust burner. I was sneezy and grouchy so I stayed in bed in full clothes, wrapped in wool blankets. I read maybe ten pages of Dox Quixote, maximum, and the rest of the day I just slept slept slept. The power came on about 7pm. Whew!

So I set into writing, which meant moving. I wrote for a few hours and decided to fill and light the sawdust burner because it was getting too chilly in the house, even in front of the (slow, not very powerful) bar heater beside me. So I filled it, and lit it, and what do you know? It took three tries to get it actually going. When it started, I turned back to my writing, which due to the power-outage I’d been away from for a couple of days. I was at one of those pivotal moments where something has to be implied, without being announced outright, and so I was concentrating on what was being sad between different characters, those in the know and those who aren’t.

And then I coughed. Lucky thing, too, because I breathed in hard, and coughed again. And then my nose started to run, my eyes watered, and I turned around. Now, I don’t know what was wrong with the way I’d placed the top on the sawdust burner, since it was set down tight, but whatever it was I’d done wrong, there was smoke pouring out from two sides at the lid. I freaked out, of course… the room was filling up with smoke, and I ran outside to check the chimney pipe on the burner. It seemed to be working okay, a steady stream of smoke pouring out of it.

So, why the flood of smoke indoors? Now, for those of you with sawdust burners of your own, don’t try this at home. I put on my winter gloves and removed the lid from the thing, which resulted in a nice faceful of smoke, and some ashen cinders to go with it. I replaced the lid, to find it still leaking smoke. I slammed my hands down onto the hot lid to force it down airtight, but this didn’t work (of course). So I yanked it off again, and again, rotating it about 10 degrees each time, and on the fourth time, it finally sealed. Bloody annoying, that one, especially since the whole time I was coughing, my eyes and nose running, cinders falling onto the floor, and all the while my mind is still bent on trying to figure out what the bloody hell Drs. Baek and Shin are going to say to young Jin Hee about her thesis and about the… er, never mind, that’s a secret plot twist I’m not gonna spoil.

My nose was running all night, and all morning too, but I got a substantial bit of writing done. (And, happily, Sangpo finally got the toilet in the house here fixed for real.) I decided to cut Alonzo completely, as he’s not integral to the plot, but we’ll see if there’s room, or a need for him later on (should I need to show more of post-collapse America from a crasher perspective, or should I find some comic relief is really necessary).

This afternoon I’m wandering around picking up supplies—I think I shall try stay in tomorrow all day just writing—and trying to get the whole conference section of the novel clear in my head. Synthia and Jin Hee have to be at certain places at certain times, and they have to have enough to chatter about for Dr. Baek to stumble onto a major discovery that’s so important the plot in the last part of the book turns on her reaction to it. So of course I’m a little blocked, needing fresh air anyway, and so I’m out and about in town.

For those inclined to worry, please don’t. I’ll pay more attention to the sawdust burner next time, and anyway, it’s not as bad as the smog in Old Delhi… Heh.

And for those who haven’t yet, and want to see, I have some older pics from this trip available on my Photo Blog. I also have a schwack of newer pics, spanning Koko’s birthday, a trip to Connaught Place and environs, and my time in Dharamsala so far, but I’m trying to organize the files so that my uploading process will be easy. Maybe in the next day or two I’ll come into town with my laptop, backup my writing and upload the new pics.

One thought on “Cold and Smoky and Lightless and But Quite Miserable (And Most Decidedly Not Dead, By Some Strange Stroke of Luck)

  1. Dear Gord….Hilarious to hear your trials and tribulations of winter in my home!!! Nice to hear there is snow…essential for a decent spring. Talking of springs I admire the one on the way to town every time we pass. Oh and the goat herder…beware…he has a reputation for hassling people for money…especially if they take photos…I was rescued by a maori woman the time he hassled me. The saw dust burner….well what can I say….there is a nack to it…but that was jonathans dept. so I have no suggestions except to light it often….and get to know it intimately!
    Glad to hear sala and sangpo are looking after you well.
    Yes dharamsala is a mad little town, but I like the winter there….you really get to see the mountains at there grandest and the air is clean and clear.
    I do hope the days of darkness help your character building.
    all my love marie-clare

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