cleber called me early this morning as well, but by that point i was already up. he apologized again for not showing up last weekend to finish painting the porch and said he'd come by today around 11:30. i told him it was necessary, since i already patched and painted, but he didn't seem to understand, and said he'd come by anyway.
the thermometer on the thermostat read 52 degrees this morning. i knew if i could just get through today, we were in store for a stretch of 60's weather for the next few days starting tomorrow. i warmed myself up by turned on the space heater in the living room on full blast. that's fine for the living room, but anytime i go elsewhere in the house, like the bathroom or the kitchen, the sudden drop in temperature was unsettling. finally i decided i had enough of the cold. it seemed pointless to prolong the inevitable any longer. even if we did get a series of 60's weather next week, the temperature would still drop down to the 30-40's at nights, leaving my place frigid and inhospitable.
armed with a wrench and a flexible-head lighter, i went down into the basement. turning on the heat is a multi-step process. first, i open up the gas valve with the wrench. the smell of gas tells me it's on. i then turn on the electricity to the furnace. the switch is actually wired wrong, where off is on and vice versa. i found out the hard way the first year i lived here where i pretty much paid an electrician to come over and tell me that. the third and final step is lighting the pilot light. that involves pressing down on the safety knob with one hand and sticking the head of the lighter towards the pilot light area with the other. after the pilot light is lit, i have to continue holding down the safety knob for 30 seconds (to properly warm up the heat sensor) before turn the knob to the on position. that's when the pilot light explodes into a furnace of flames as i kick off the official start of the winter heating season.
i'd done some leg work weeks before, replacing the filter and vacuuming out all 7 forced-air heating vents in the house. i could immediately feel the difference. even with my thermostat set at my standard lowly wintertime temperature of just 60°F, the house was noticeable warmer than before, comfortable even. the biggest difference is in the bathroom. before, the combination of the cold tiles and the chilly toilet seat made any trips in there like jumping into a pool of freezing water. but now, it's all nice and toasty, it's definitely one room in the house i could spend all day in during the winter. one thing i noticed later was there was no smell. usually when the forced air heating begins, there's a distinctive odor that was missing this time around. it probably had something to do with that expensive filter i'm using. even when i put my nose right up to the vent, the air is completely odorless. with such a powerful filtration ability, i wonder if it means i'll have to change out the filter more often?
not sure when's the latest i've ever held out on turning on the heat. close to thanksgiving comes to mind. it's already snowed once here in cambridge and i've still gone heatless, so if there's a point to be made (that i'm a miser), i think i've made it. i don't think i could've gone too much longer: my new roommate is tentatively scheduled to arrive on the 15th (another week), so i would've definitely had to have the heat on by then.
in the early afternoon, with the construction noises still going on, i got dressed and went out to investigate. on the street directly behind my house was a large dump truck unloading a mound of dirt into what looked to be an empty lot. i wanted to ask somebody what was going on but the only person there was the driver of the truck who narrowly missed running me over as he was leaving.
cleber never showed up at 11:30 but did come eventually around 2:30. he was unpacking equipment from his van, getting ready to do some work, until he saw that i'd already patched and painted the porch (like i told him over the phone). his current job takes him to new hampshire, and he's doing exclusively interior stuff now since it's too cold outside. he said he'd come back next year to make sure the paint job was still okay since he guaranteed his work for 5 years.
i went ahead and put on one final coat of citristrip on the back plates and gave them all one last cleaning. there was hardly any paint left, i just wanted to see if i could get them even shinier without having to resort to a harsh scrubbing brush that might mar the details. i then put them back onto the doors. now the doors definitely need to be stripped and repainted, but like i said before, that won't happen until next spring.
i cooked up some homemade frozen chinese dumplings for dinner. the hardest part was creating the dipping sauce, a combination of chopped garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and hot sauce. i managed to get my hands on a copy of mark of cain, a 2000 documentary about russian prison tattoos. compared to places like the russian "white swan", american jails are luxury resorts. i also catch the celtics game against the new jersey nets after boston lost to phoenix last night (first loss of the season).