the comfort of routine

The calming continues. The last couple of days have been nice. The hot water heater was inspected by the local building inspector yesterday. Today, I got to go to work and work a complete day for the first time since… well, it’s been weeks.

I also got a chance to try my hand at a little stir fry. The stove in our new house has a 14500 BTU gas “power burner”. I haven’t really made much use of my hand hammered wok during the last few years, because the curved bottom doesn’t work well with electric ranges. The power burner doesn’t quite produce enough heat to make a good stir fry… but it gets damn close.

Dealing with the simple domestic details… rather the logistics of moving, or the problems of dealing with contractors… that has been so nice.

walking dead

We have a functional house. The good folks from Sears came by yesterday evening at around 6pm and installed our new washer and new dryer, both by Frigidaire. With the major appliances (stove, refrigerator, hot water heater, floor furnace, and washer/dryer) now working… and much of the surrounding systems inspected by contractors, we have a working house. Finally. After almost two weeks since moving in.

Another big exhale.

I’m dead. Three weeks of worrying, packing, and moving has left me drained. I feel like I just finished finals week after two weeks of working on class projects. I wish it was Christmas vacation — so I could just camp out on the sofa for a week, watch a bunch of old movies, and nap extensively. Alas, life goes on.

I had a job interview today. I met with six people in five hours. Today was not the best day to be doing this… I was told that I should expect an answer about whether or not there will be further interest in 48 hours. Everyone please keep your fingers crossed!

a moment of peace

I am pleased to report that the hot water heater issue was resolved today. After talking with our claim handler at the insurance company this morning, we decided to let a second contractor who specializes in hot water heater installation come by and see what they could do. They showed up at around 12:30pm. I told them my tale of water heater woe. They immediately almost literally said “What the f—?!? You mean they showed up, did some upgrades, tried to install this new water heater, and left you hanging by re-installing the old one??? That is unprofessional. This new one will fit. You just need to cut a couple inches off the legs of the stand.” They called the main office to see what they would be charging to clean up this mess, called the insurance company to make sure that it was covered, and started working. They had the new hot water heater installed and heating up in about 45 minutes.

We have a washer and dryer arriving on Sunday, so I spent the rest of the afternoon clearing space in the garage for them. I also started putting together a gas grill that we bought a couple weeks ago… I am anticipating some nice evenings on our covered patio with freshly grilled food.

After that, I just crashed. I got about three hours of sleep last night because of all my anxiety about the hot water heater. I had a little dinner, put The Matrix in the DVD player, had some good Zinfandel, and just stretched out on the sofa.

One of the things I always look forward to during a move is that first moment of peace after the move is over where you can lay down and think “ok… I’ve done enough… I don’t need to do anything for while.” I found that moment of peace tonight. I’ve been looking for it for about three weeks. I’m glad it’s finally here.

the joys of home ownership…

So when we last left our intrepid heroes, they were just getting ready to move… and oh so much has happened since then.

We’ve had great joy in dealing with the gas company. First, the idiot plumber destroyed the main gas shut off valve for our house, so I had to have the gas utility out to replace it. Well, they couldn’t replace it on the first visit… so we had to schedule another, five days later. They replaced the valve and our gas meter on that second visit, but I foolishly decided to run an errand while they were here doing the repair. They finished before I got back, and left the gas turned off… they want to re-light appliance pilot lights after ever gas shutoff… and since I’d never re-lit the pilots on the furnace or the hot water heater, we had to wait for them to return for a “re-light”. They were finally able to return 2.5 days later to do that… but discovered that something was wrong with the furnace. After a visit from the HVAC contractor courtesy of our home warranty insurance, it turned out to be a loose wire.

The hot water heater is turning out to be a more troublesome appliance. It started leaking when the gas was off. Another call to the home warranty company summoned a plumber. The plumber immediately looked at our hot water heater and said “we can replace the hot water heater but about $400 in improvements and upgrades will also be required”. The words “code violations” were mentioned, in spite of a relatively clean home inspector’s report. Some protests to the home warranty company later, and the amount was reduced to $200. The plumbers came back today to install the replacement hot water heater. They performed the necessary upgrades, only to discover that the new unit is taller than the old. This means that the vent flue must be raised… which the plumbers won’t do. Theoretically, a more compact hot water heater could be purchased that would fit our flue… but we’re not sure if the warranty company will pay for it. If they won’t, an HVAC contractor will have to modify the flue and bring it up to code… which means finding a contractor to do the work quickly. The word “asbestos” has also been mentioned. *shudder* In the meanwhile, our old hot water heater has been reconnected… and our water has a slight golden brown hue.

One small silver lining in today’s water heater adventure: the plumbers turned off the gas to our house to upgrade the end of the gas pipe for the hot water heater (without telling us… thanks guys). They re-lit the pilot for the hot water heater… but did not for our floor furnace. I had to go into the crawl space and do that myself… which means I now know how to re-light all the appliances in the house. No more re-light appointments with the local utility, thanks.

What else? The cable took two separate visits from the cable company to get right. Our TV was attached as a part of the first visit. We had a picture but no “digital cable” features like a menu or guide. A call the cable company 24 hours later fixed that over the phone, but we traded an online guide for access to any cable channels — local affiliates came in, but nothing else. A second visit determined that a failing cable under the house was degrading the signal, causing poor reception.

Things have been going fairly well otherwise. We got out of our old apartment as of this past Monday. The box war is slow going, but we’re slowly getting our stuff out of boxes. We have the chimney on our house rebuilt, so we can heat our house with fire wood if we want, I suppose… And the roof of the house is in pretty good shape. We’ve had three contractors up there to look around and all three say that there’s nothing that needs attention right away.

Still… I’m looking for dust to settle. I want to get back into every day routine. I don’t want to worry about finding contractors… or waiting for contractors to show up. I want to get my head back into my job… and not dealing with tons of details associated with this house. Is that too much to ask?

notes from the chrysalis

Sorry it’s taken a week for me to post again. There’s been so much to do. We move into our house on Wednesday. I’ve been a packing fool all week. We’re now in that awkward stage where over half of our possessions are sitting around our apartment in boxes. We are not living here in the apartment, we are not yet living in the house. We are in the chrysalis stage.

So what tales can I tell of life in the chrysalis? Well… let us start with idiot plumbers. I called our local electric and gas utility 10 days ago, to get the service at our house put in my name. I was told that they planned to turn off our gas service and put a lock on the meter because the previous owners disconnected a gas dryer. Now there was a valve on the end of that pipe… and we fully intend to get a gas dryer… but since that valve was sitting there not attached to anything, the utility considers it to be a safety hazard.

So, after talking this over with our realtor, she located a plumber to cap the line. This guy was with a local “discount” outfit, and the man was as the realtor put it “the most uncommunicative contractor I ever met”. A good contractor should be able to explain what needs doing, tell you why, and be able to offer alternatives. I’ve met blocks of wood that were more expressive than this guy. He did not inspire any confidence on my part. I strongly suspect that he is an idiot — the plumbing equivalent of the M.D. who graduated at the bottom of his med school class.

It’s been a long week of box warfare. A typical day has involved getting up just before sunrise, packing for a couple hours, going to work, ducking out of work for a couple hours to wait at the house for some appointment or another (like the idiot plumber!), coming home, and then packing four a couple hours in the evening. I’ve been pretty much going it alone where the packing is concerned; Mrs. Geek has had her own battles to fight this week, and helping with the move hasn’t been her highest priority. This “going it alone” mentality has brought out some of my hermit tendencies… and that’s not necessarily to the good. I’ve been too busy in the eye of the hurricane to accept help. I’m in survival mode… putting out fires. No time for niceties and keeping more than two thoughts in my head at a time.

I should recommend all of this as a weight loss program. My diet has slipped a bit during the last few days, but my weight was down by a few pounds at my last weigh-in on Thursday. This makes sense — get up early, and move around all day by packing and moving boxes, and the pounds should come off, right?

All this activity has not been without cost to Mrs. Geek and me. Our mental state is frayed. We snarl at each other more than we probably should. Mrs. Geek hates dealing with boxes… and our life is boxes right now. I’m not in great shape to be making quick decisions… I’m in the eye of the hurricane, not viewing it from far above. This bothers her… but we survive. And it will all be over soon… at least until the home improvement projects (of which there are now about half a dozen) begin to take over.

In the meanwhile, Mrs. Geek had her car burglarized this morning. It was a simple smash and grab. One or more persons have hit several cars in the garage of our apartment building in the last few days. The building manager has suspicions about who the thieves might be, but no proof. The only thing stolen out of Mrs. Geek’s car was a $60 Monster iCarPlay FM Transmitter. It was visible on Mrs. Geek’s dashboard, and was probably why the thieves broke into her car. Our collision insurance will absorb most of the bill, but it’s just more trouble that we don’t need.

If I don’t post for a few days, know that it is not because I don’t want to. Things will be hitting the end of a long crescendo around here over the next few days. Update time will be hard to come by.