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January 9th 2010    Tim Candler

    The Grey Cat's mistress has become like Captain Oates.  She has been gone for sometime, and she will miss the excitement of next week when temperatures soar into the 40's with sunshine, and concomitant thawing of pipes that give the kitchen running water.

     My own fault these pipes have frozen again.  All of last year I left undone those things that I ought to have done, and punishment for me may consist of repeated trips through ice and snow to the hardware store.    But if these frozen pipes do have sufficient dignity to maintain their integrity, then there is a chance that I will not have to do battle with the atrophy winter produces in me until I have managed the vegetable garden long enough to be able to touch my knees again.

    It is all very well being in possession of plumbing accessories, but for some reason the arteries of plumbing are considered unsightly, and to avoid hurting sensibilities they are tucked away in those places where mice are happy.    This means that when it comes time to address plumbing, better to be snake-like than roly-poly.

    French architects once designed a structure which had all its utilities attached to the outside of the living space.  Some say the building looks a little like a chemical device.   But I like it because I can see its merit in terms of that "assumption of break-down" our species so struggles with.

    At the one extreme, are cultures which worship "break-down".   Build temples and churches, toss virgins into volcanoes, and those sorts of things.  At the other extreme are cultures which ignore "break-down" by devoting vast resource to ointment for red blotches on pink skin, perfect teeth, good hair and other primarily palliative activities which include putting running water in pipes where only skinny professionals can reach them.

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