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13 September 2004 — A Leak in the Attic (4)

On Friday morning Kris noticed some discoloration on the hallway ceiling upstairs, near where the insulation contractor had fallen through earlier in the year. "That looks like water damage," she said, and both of our hearts sank.

On Saturday, we climbed onto the roof and looked around. Sure enough: the contractor had installed four roof vents, and one of them (on a flat section of the roof) had peeled loose, the pastic/rubber edges curling, pulling away from the tar that was supposed to hold it in place. Basically, there was no barrier between the rain and the attic.

We created a make-shift patch (comprising duct tape and plastic), and then put in a couple of polite but firm calls to the contractor.

We've had it.

These bozos — who came highly recommended from several sources — have caused us nothing but headaches. Paul Olson and his crew from Gale Contractor Services first drilled nineteen two-inch holes into the wainscot despite a clear understanding that the wainscot was not to be touched. Then one of the workers fell through the ceiling. Then they intended to install insulation in the wrong section of the basement (they were going to do the exact inverse of what needed to be done). Finally, it took a month to settle the bill, and when it came down to it, for all our trouble Gale Contractor Services gave us only a $50 break on a $2400 bill. I didn't argue at the time — we were leaving for Alaska the next day — but now I regret that.

I guarantee you I'll be putting up a fuss until the leak in the attic is repaired, and all of the damage (including any wet insulation) fixed to our satisfaction.

This is ridiculous.

Because of the leak, and because of a couple of other things, I suffered from a paralyzing funk on Saturday morning. I couldn't get anything done. I tried to repair the upstairs sink, but just made things worse. I tried to work on the berry patch, but the tiller wouldn't start (I'd left it uncovered over night, and it had been rained on). The goddamn Apple-based wireless network was running slow as molasses. (Why do people use Apple's Airport products? They cost four times as much as normal wireless products, and they don't work nearly as well. What am I saying? I'm one of those fools...)

I was in a funk. The natural thing to do, of course, was to create a new playlist in iTunes. I started adding songs, and before I knew it, I had inadvertently created a new mix, filled with songs about death and dying: "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", "Cold Missouri Waters", "The Legionnaire's Lament", "Travelin' Soldier", "The Wreck of the Old 97", "The Legend of John Henry's Hammer", etc. Slightly amused, I called the mix "Constant Sorrow".

When Kris came home from a rare Saturday at work, she helped alleviate my funk. We drove to Aurora and Woodburn where we spent $250 on:

  • At long last, a writing desk for the nook between the parlor and the den. The desk isn't beautiful, but it's functional, and it gives me a spot of my very own downstairs. More about the desk later.
  • A pear tree and a plum tree. (We still need an apple, but we'll wait until Portland Nursery has them on sale in a couple weeks.)
  • Various caneberries: a boysenberry and a marionberry to join our thornless, non-invasive blackberry (ha! that still makes me laugh) and our blackcap raspberry. We still want two true raspberries, but they can wait.
  • Several bundles of soil amendments, including ammonium sulfate, so that we can prepare the beds for blueberries. Blueberries like low pH. Ours isn't tremendously high, but the blueberries won't be happy unless we amend the soil.
  • A basin wrench and a new faucet for the upstairs sink.
  • Several others small miscellaneous items for around the house.
Yesterday afternoon we made use of all this stuff. We moved the desk into position. I installed the new faucet in the upstairs sink. (There's still a small leak — one drop every twenty minutes — but I'm not patient enough to watch the water line long enough to spot its location.)

As I mentioned, I finally have a writing desk. When we moved it in, the first thing I did was write the following:

Here I am, at my new desk. Ever since we moved in, I've been craving a space for writing, a desk of my own, tucked in the nook. Lately, that craving has become so strong as to make me irritable. Kris wanted to wait for the perfect desk, but I only wanted something acceptable, and now!

At last, I have it.

I've moved much of my writing stuff — typewriter, dictionary, Strunk and White — to the built-in shelves above the desk. These writing tools now share space with my tobacco supply (including a new humidor from Jeremy); my collection of "pulp fiction" (nautical and adventure fiction, as well as Tarzan books, and a particular type of science fiction); the thirty (!!!) comic book compilations I have on loan from the public library; and the brand-new $14.50 set of New Testament study guides comprising fifteen Modern Library-sized volumes (Kris keeps threatening to throw these out). I've also moved the household information down here: the notes left by the previous owner, the to-do list, the gardening information.

The nook still needs a few things: a smallish light, which can be mounted above the desk, on the bottom of the shelves; a supply of pens; a large calendar I can place beneath the desk's glass top; and stuff to fill the drawers.

It's not a pretty desk, but it's not ugly. It seems to fit the space. And as it was only $150, who can argue?

On this day at foldedspace.org

2005Sudoku!   The real problem is sudoku is addicting.

2003Self-flagellation   In which I beat myself up over my lack of productivity. Why am I not yet a famous novelist?

On 13 September 2004 (02:09 PM), Lynn said:

So...if you ever have the time to stop by your friendly insurance agent's office, you will be gifted with a free desk calendar (2004 and 2005, if need be). Please note: it will be covered in St. Farm propaganda.

On 13 September 2004 (03:38 PM), Joel said:

Terribly sorry about the contractors. I'm much less handy around the house than you or Kris are, and, as Aimee and I want someday to own an older home, I'm sure we'll be at the mercy of some such gang of boobs as these boobs are.

On 13 September 2004 (04:22 PM), J.D. Roth said:

Handy is as handy does, or so I'm learning. Or, another way of putting it, one becomes handy by being handy.

When we bought this house, I could not deny that I had little experience in the way of handiness. I'd protest when Kris made snide comments about me not being handy, but the truth is, I had the capacity but neither then will nor the experience. Now, I'm acquiring both.

I wouldn't say that I'm handy, yet, but I'm well on my way to becoming so. And, based on the nature of this house, I fully expect to be as handy as a guy could wish by next summer.

And the summer after that, I'm building a full-scale replica of the Taj Mahal! :)

On 13 September 2004 (06:42 PM), Jeremy said:

One must remember that most of the jobs that were hired out by JD were jobs that required no special training (ie trade school or higher ed). Nor is a high school diploma required for most of these jobs. These are jobs which require work, sometimes hard work, but not a whole lot in the way of, shall we say, brains. Now, JD was daunted by these tasks and did not have the time or energy to tackle them on his own (or with the help of friends); and yet had he gotten a few pointers and maybe a little help they are all jobs which he could have done much more satisfactorily himself. In short, all those projects that happen in a house, with the exception of HVAC, electrical, and plumbing are jobs that almost anyone (even the admittedly unhandy Joel) can do better for themselves - most often simply because they care more about the job than the person they are hiring to do it.

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