b r e a t h i n g   r o o m

14 Dec 97

Our house is settling. We don't own. We rent, and our landlord is the best possible sort, responsible (she's a legal-aid type lawyer and handed us a summary of our rights as tenants when we first signed the rental agreement with her), and the sort of person we might be friends with anyway. Somehow, one side of the building has moved away from the chimney, and during the recent rainstorms, niño or no, the water came pouring down, first the inside of the chimney, and later at other spots along the ceiling/wall edge on that side of the building.

The chimney guy came by and patched the problem on Friday and recommended that B and I start a fire in the fireplace (we haven't had one there for years, and had no firewood), because the bricks were saturated with water and needed drying out. Unfortunately, either because of the moisture or because the weird inversion in the weather and gusty winds, all the smoke from the fire on Saturday (we picked up discarded lumber and kindling at our friends David and Laurie's house in the Oakland hills after shopping) billowed into the leaving room, setting off the ear-piercing alarm and leaving a lingering smell for the next few days.

This morning, B woke up an hour or so before I did and resolved to sert one last fire in the place, burn up the rest of the wood, dry out the bricks for sure, and then clean out the fireplace and wash the soot off the tiles and try to get the smokey smell out of the living room and the rest of the house. On Saturday she'd taken an old clear plastic picnic tablecloth from the basement and taped it up with strapping tape over the mouth of the fireplace to keep the smoke contained. This morning, though, the tape came loose, the plastic sheet dropped, and the smoke poured once again into the living room, eventually setting off the horribly shrill alarm, which woke me up.

At first I thought I knew what it was, without questioning why it was going off, and lay still in bed waiting for Briggs to stop it. Then I decided I must have been mistaken and it must be an unusually near car alarm (they are going off all the time in this neighborhood these days - B things it's the holiday thievery season - rivaling the incessantly barking dog next door as a source of nonstop clatter). At last I realized it was indeed the smoke alarm and it was not stopping. I got up and walked into the livingroom stark naked. B told me she couldn't reach the alarm, so I stepped onto the stool beneath it and yanked out the battery. Oddly enough, I woke to a much better mood today.

yester morrow
day one

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