blog-O-rama archive
march 2003

ann maria bell

03/14 1:59

happy &pi day

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02.03.03

The arrival rate of books that I'd like to read exceeds my throughput of books, and has for many years. The inevitable conclusion is that the number of books that I would like to read but haven't read is heading off towards infinity, though it seems likely I will die before it actually gets there. I'm running into a similar problem with my blog, with ideas for things I'd like to write about arriving faster than I write about them. In other words, it's as I suspected --- my brain has an unstable pole, located on the right side of my brain, probably in the spot where I was supposed to store my multiplication tables, which explains why whenever someone asks me what 6 x 7 is there's a long pause while I add 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 in my head. Writing about the fact that I have too much stuff to write about only adds iteration to instability.

After a marvelous and unexpected brunch, my housemate Jason and I decided to walk across the ice to Picnic Point. 15 F? No problem, in comparison to the rest of the weather we've had this winter, 15 F only qualifies as 'brisk.' The walk to the stairs that lead down to the lake was pleasant enough --- but with each step we took down the wind blew harder. There were patterns of lines etched on the surface of the ice and shadowy fractures with a murky three dimensional geometry embedded in the ice, very pretty but probably not worth risking frostbite for. We made it about 1/16th of the way to Picnic Point before reason prevailed and we turned back. Here's Jason's assessment of our outing.

It was much warmer back inside Rivendell, but like so many things in life, the problem was not the level but the trend --- the furnace had stopped working and the house was losing heat fast. Wayne, the furnace dude, showed up about an hour later. Wayne is nice. Wayne is prompt. Wayne is competent. Wayne has developed quite a rapport with our beastly old furnace. We like Wayne. But we really would have prefered that Wayne not come visit us on Sunday afternoon. Especially since Wayne's last visit cost us $1700. Maybe in the future we can just meet Wayne at the bar for a couple of drinks instead of having him come see us at Rivendell.

Between the cold weather and the furnace repairs, not to mention the less than forward-looking budgeting process that was used last August to decide rents for the year, the Rivenbudget is under a lot of strain. The last financial report was grim, the cold and the price of heating oil has made a huge dent in our budget and reserves, and we're carrying debt that could make any future increases in interest rates quite unpleasant.

So what are we doing? Most of our big expenses, mortgage, taxes, heat, are non-negotiable but we're cutting back where we can. Previously, incidental purchases of less than 50$ were okay'd by a nod from the treasurer, now they require a vote of the whole house and are restricted to absolute necessities. We've also tapped into our food budget to make up for the higher than average heating bills, that means no more 8$ bags of frozen raspberries, fewer pecans, almonds and hazlenuts and finding the bottom in the bottomless canister of chocolate chips. We snuck in a 10$ rent increase, in the guise of an "high speed internet/cable tv" charge, but for many of the people living here, that just means 10$ less to spend on incidentals like movies and eating out during the month. Today Jason, Comella, Bill & I resisted the temptation to go out for sushi, and had leftover tomato soup (homemade by Comella on Friday night -- yum!) for lunch instead, that's 25 - 40$ that we didn't spend.

I don't see any 'recovery' in sight for the Rivenrecession, and if the price of oil or interest rates rise things could get worse. We're like a microcosm of the national economy --- except that no one at Rivendell thinks the solution is starting a war on another coop to get control of their heating oil reserves.

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