Steampunk Living

Dearest Rachel –

You’ll have to understand, I hadn’t intended to have anyone over today. I left the office early because I needed to drop something off at FedEx (the bank had me sign some papers for the estate) and get a few accessories for my costume on Saturday (the ‘suspicious astronaut’ costume – I guess that’s one way to avoid name checking Among Us – didn’t include a helmet; but at this point in the season, there was nothing I could do to complete the costume, so I had to start from scratch) before heading home to do the lawn and the laundry. But once I got home, there was an email waiting for me saying that the fellows from Detail were going to be checking out the place – oh, and could I have a deposit ready?

Well, far be it for me to pass up the opportunity, since I was already home. I responded in the affirmative, and waited for them to show up.

And waited.

And waited. I wasn’t going to go out and work on the lawn when they might show up at any time. Didn’t want to be interrupted at the task, nor did I want to greet them all sweaty or anything. I did toss in a load of laundry, just to keep my hand in.

Finally, after a fair length of time, I went to check my emails again. It turned out one of the Detail team had been on a job that had gotten more involved than originally expected. However, he seemed to have gotten over whatever difficulty he’d encountered, and the two of them would be by within the half hour.

Sure enough, they were as good as the second word, and I showed them around the place. Mike, of course, had already seen everything, even to the point of having brought along the blueprints he and Lisa had drafted previously. But I have never met Tim (and vice versa), and it appears that he’ll be the one doing the work – or at least supervising it. So I had to go over the story of the house, and all the additions to it, and how that came to be, all over again.

It’s funny how it’s the most normal thing in the world to us, seeing as it’s only the second house either of us have ever lived in (the dorms at university don’t count), and yet, even seasoned builders are fascinated by it. Both of them are unable to get over the odd thickness (or rather, thinness) of the wall between the laundry room and the bedroom (and similarly, around the pantry), and how the room is hooked up for water and electricity – leaving them puzzling as to how best to re-wire everything so it’s up to current codes.

But the truly astonishing thing was when I brought them down to the utility room – which, mind you, I had no expectations of it needing to be remodeled, but of course it would be something to deal with, as the water, heat and electricity all emanate from there. To give you a rough idea of their opinion, Tim described the room as ‘steampunk.’

And I suppose that makes sense, what with the pipes going this way and that all over the place.

Of particular notice to them with a little segment of pipe that you can see near the bottom of this picture, where the pipe goes from 3/4 inch thickness to 1/2 inch thickness, and then back to 3/4 inch again. Both of them found this hilarious, as a plumber wouldn’t change the thickness of a pipe halfway along, let alone restore it to the original thickness shortly there after. It just made no sense to them. But when I told him that it never interfered with the water pressure, they were amazed.

Equally surprising to them was when I informed them of the one time we did have water pressure issues, and set out to change our water heater, only to find out that it was very nearly thirty years old – over three times the age a water heater made these days should be expected to last. They were also shocked when I mentioned how full of sediment it had been; we knew at the time that we were lucky to have avoided a catastrophic failure, but apparently we were considerably luckier than we might have known.

At the same time, they both observed but the piping was in surprisingly good shape for it’s a parent age. Very limited rust – even the portions comprised of galvanized steel, which will have to be replaced with copper to bring it up to code – and looking very much like it had been installed only recently, as opposed to the probably fifty years that it actually had been.

Even the circuit box had them remarking about its state of preservation. Apparently, Pushmatic circuit boxes haven’t even been legal for installation for the past twenty years, yet even the inspection sticker on it is in gleaming condition. The signature (dating from February 1964) is still perfectly legible, as if the inspector had been here recently and signed off on it.

Tim also scrambled into the crawlspace to try and determine where all the pipes and ductwork led – how everything gets to the kitchen, in particular. Meanwhile, Mike pointed out something odd to me about the pipes emanating from the water softener (which, by the way, is completely superfluous in its own right, since that dated from when the house was drawing from a local well, rather than Lake Michigan)

And that’s just the most glaringly obvious bit of superfluous pipe. It would seem that, along with remodeling the kitchen and the laundry room, they are going to be taking out a lot of stuff that’s not needed in the utility room at all. The water softener goes, and probably about a third of the pipes. So goodbye steampunk, hello streamlined.

Wish you could be here to see it. At least I can keep you updated on how it’s going from here on, for what that’s worth.

Talk to you later, honey. I love you.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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