Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why add fool to the fire



If you ever want to hate your house, and I don’t know why you should but we all get strange cravings from time to time, just hire an inspector to look at one little thing. Like the face boards out front, or the drainage out back. Or the fireplace in the middle.

As for the last, I hired an outfit, one highly recommended by folks I trust, and A and C came by, sweet-smelling and handsome (oh yes, they were) at 8 a.m. (oh yes, they did).

“Nice,” said A, patting the brick monolith on the thigh. It looks solid.”

While C cleaned the fireplace, A climbed up on the roof. And that’s when things went south.

“Kar-een!” he said (A is German). “Kar-een! I must show you something.”

And he climbed down the ladder and played back some photos. “Who did this…this – what’s the word to describe the flashing around the chimney, I could say it in my own language …”

“Abomination?” I’m a walking App for the missing word or phrase, thanks to immigrant parents.

“Yes,” he smiled, impressed. “Exactly. Abomination. Let me tell you why we have a problem…”

Well, two things, here. First of all, on a yearly basis, I have some new roofer walk the house and tell me how every guy who ever nailed my shingles has been either an idiot or a scoundrel. I expect they’ve all been right about that.

Secondly, when it comes to almost any problem other than nouns and verbs, I don’t want the back story. I don’t want, for example, to hear all about the history of the Roman sewer system just because my bathtub won’t drain.

Similarly, I don’t want to feign interest in gunky spark plugs or my dental x-rays. I don’t want to look at my dog’s hookworms under a microscope. Why must these people continually parade the incidentals of their disgusting job in front of me, as if I didn’t have my own disgusting job to do. Just hang a dollar sign on the problem, is my motto, and I’ll take two aspirin and think about it in the morning.

But of course, no one cares what I want. For three hours today, it was nothing but, “Kar-een! Kar-een! Come here! I found something …” Of course, that last sentence never ended in “fabulous.”

The estimate to fix all these problems is … well, I don’t know how they say it in German or English, but the French have a word for it.

After they left, and as I was hanging a painting above the indoor structure which we will now refer to as the giant brick easel, it turns out A left the check behind. So twenty minutes later:

“Kar-een, it's me …”

And then, twenty minutes later, he came back again.

“Kar-een, I have a question …”

And then six hours later he delivered a 24-page pictorial of my naughty fireplace. Amazing service, really, from a company that requires a three-week wait for the initial appointment.

Anyway, A could have saved himself the fourth trip of the day. When many, many thousands of dollars stand between me and cozy, cold and bleak looks mighty appealing.

54 comments:

  1. Very informative and interesting. I've always wondered who were the type to hire "The Smell Good Plumbers." I think I have a solid clue now...
    "He came over and cleared my pipes. And, he smelled real good doing it too!"

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  2. OMG, Karin, what are all the problems? How much can go wrong with one chimney? Have you ever used your fireplace?

    My chimney - the top third - was redone after the 1987 Whittier Narrows Quake because it was spun around on its axis. I have fires in my fireplace from time to time, but other than once, I haven't had it inspected. Now I'm nervous.

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  3. I think the French word you are looking for is "putain!"

    My condolences.

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  4. I can just hear him calling your name with that German accent. What a naughty chimney you've got!

    We moved into a very old house in England that needed a cement condom in the chimney to stop the smoke leaking out into the bedroom. The cost was astronomical, so we left the problem to the next owners.

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  5. I have a chimney sweep in the family. (I'm sure I told you this before, but you probably thought I was kidding.) I don't know why I'm telling you again, as he is clearly geographically opposed to being of any help whatsoever. Can I at least send you some art for your new easel?

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  6. Well, as u know I had a roofer in and he told me (what I DID not want to hear) that most new construction only uses ONE sheet or layer of paper when they lay the roof.. He said 2 layers is what is needed....L-O-V-E-L-Y isn't it.,. I bet you felt like a punching bag every time they said your name...
    Me, I cringed hoping the roofer and the heating guy didn't say 'ah, I hate to tell u this'. Maintenance is a biatch.

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  7. I know it likely doesn't apply in your case, but I keep thinking of those TV shows where many of the "I hate to tell you this" are based on pure fiction. I even wonder if sometimes you might have people who aren't wrong, but they're going way overboard. Like hiring Picasso to see if your wall mural needs touching up.

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  8. Yeah, I have yankee gutters on my roof and learned the history of this technology from each contractor to ever go up there.

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  9. What a day...and what a house! Did the handsome man tell you it was Santa who ruined your chimney? Then maybe you can ask him to pay for it.

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  10. I don't know if the French have a word for your chimney predicament - but your description (or Han's) reminds me of the contractor's version of the "Vagina Monologues"

    wv: coman

    make of it what you will

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  11. Bellis is exactly right -- my chimney needs a condom, else sparks can waft into the attic.

    Unfortunately, it's probably true, as A made me watch Chimney, The Motion Picture. I got to see all the cracks in the 1922 mortar, the part of the chimney that wasn't rebuilt and conveniently hidden behind a wall.

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  12. Meant to send you the link to French in one word:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSeaDQ6sPs0

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  13. Now we have to worry about our chimneys wearing condoms? Egad.

    This is brilliant. So sorry about the hassle and expense. (And did it ever occur to you that all these professionals go overboard just want to ask you out? Oh, Ka-reen...)

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  14. Meant to send you the link to French in one word:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSeaDQ6sPs0

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  15. "It has unicorns exploding from it!"

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  16. I once had an exhorbitant estimate for our fireplace...got a second opinion...had it cleaned and it's been working fine ever since...
    Second opinions are well worth it!!!

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  17. We traded the wood pile for a nice propane gas tank and installed a ventless gas fireplace. It brings the cozy and warm into the house without the chopping, stacking, and fetching. Of course, there is no crackling and no wonderful wood smell, but I can cope with that.

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  18. I can't stop using my new French vocabulary. Putain? Putain! Putain...

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  19. I'm tryin two think of de way Norwegian word of saying it. Just saying.

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  20. Yeah, I don't want to fucking know. That's why I haven't called anyone for estimates on the windstorm damage. I hate my house that much already.

    I ask you. Where's the love, Kareeen?

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  21. I'm pretty sure those guys with the lovely pictorials jack up the problem and price by a factor of at least 3. Can't you find an old Italian mason to take care of it? That's what we'd do hereabouts. Never mind the fancy, handsome men.

    I had a guy like that who wanted to rebuild my incinerator chimney. Said it had issues. He told me to pay in advance. I told him where the door was, and Thor helped him through it.

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  22. As much as I'd like to have two handsome, sweet-smelling guys with accents checking out my chimney, I just put the inspection at the bottom of the home projects list.

    Where can I order that teal furry outfit?

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  23. The tuckpointing is shot, the Chicago style brick is crumbling, the flashing was installed by an idiot and then caulked over, the liner is gone . . . don't trust anyone who needlessly points out so many things. Or who uses ellipses.

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  24. Though I am ugly and I smell bad.

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  25. 24 pages; sounds like it may be a record for one chimney. (And Laurie may be on to something.)

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  26. We have something that translates literally to "go pull your salmon." Will that work?

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  27. Your post are always such an interest to me. I can identify with you on this one.

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  28. So, just put about $50 worth of cute ivory candles ( different sizes of course) in the F'in fireplace and light them when you need ambiance and see Kareen, you've solved the f'in problem! :)
    V

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  29. Very interesting story. I like Virginia's idea of using ivory candles in the f'in fireplace for the ambiance. And if you got scented candles, it would smell good, too. ;-)

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  30. Oh my god, Desiree, that had me in tears.

    We've never used our fireplace. The inspector said, "Well, it's not up to code, so it's safe until it burns down your house, you know?" I don't know what it would cost to bring it up to code. More than we're spending at the moment.

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  31. Did he carry a riding crop? Bad fireplace!

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  32. I wish for you a fireplace full of warmth, such as I'm enjoying at the moment. You're like me: Don't give me story, just get to the point and do it quickly.

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  33. C, I guess that means you don't want to hear everything I learned about Portland Cement.

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  34. Might I suggest you expand that to "Putain de merde"? I don't know if there's an app for that...

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  35. Kareen...I...can...not...stop...laughing...sorry.

    then again, I don't own a chimney!

    I LIKE V's f'in suggestion, as with the french words (did I mention my sweetie works for a french company? I'm learning, slowly).

    "every guy who ever nailed my shingles" is that a commentary on your dating choices? Sorry, I haven't dated in over 20 years, I'm not up on the "new" terminology. Yes, old, boring, married, folk. That's me.

    I'm thinking it is time to find your and Petrea's Lincoln Heights buddy and ask HIM for a referral. May smell less yummy, the accent won't be the same, but I bet the price might be better.

    Mr Earl---I saw plenty of those chimneys after Whittier---amazing to see them spun like that, or just one row of bricks pulled out.

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  36. We've had our fireplace inspected at least two or three time, and everyone says unless we spend thousands, we'll burn our house down or smoke will come pouring in. I have a feeling they are selling us. We haven't used our fireplace once.

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  37. Afraid to use your fireplace? Come on over and use mine. Bring your hoses.

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  38. There are other ways to warm yourself besides a fire. I know you can think of good ones.
    Bonne Année, Karain!

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  39. Happy New Year, my friends. I thank you for a 2011 filled with poetry, puns, art, wisdom, spell checks, grammar corrections, encouragement, and humor.

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  40. Happy New Year, Karin! Wishing you a wonderful year filled with joy in 2012!

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  41. yea, Happy New Year Karin. You're the best that side of the Mississippi!

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  42. So you settled on this? (photo) Those Germans are thorough

    Happy New Year

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  43. Happy New Year, Karin! May you never lose power in 2012.

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  44. Happy New Year, KB. Thank you for making me laugh and cry.

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  45. They told us buying a house was an investment. Damn, they were right, their portfolio from the sale is profitable as we, the homeowners fix and repair daily.

    Time to sell and move. REI has some nice nylon accommodations that will not cost an arm or a leg. Though you may not have the headroom you may desire.

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  46. And today it's Happy New Year, the sequel.

    Rob, I couldn't agree more. If you pay a mortgage, it's the same as renting except all the problems are yours.

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  47. I had a German come out to re-glaze some enamel and when he looked at my kitchen sink his lip literally curled in disgust at the clumsy, chipping caulking job.

    He emitted some kind of retching noise before he turned away in despair and announced he couldn't do anything for me.

    One good thing about a 1960 house: The chimney, flashing, flue, etc seem to be safe and up-to-code. Though I can hardly use it in an 85 degree winter!

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  48. You do have a way with a story, Kar-een. Nice easel.

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  49. Wow, that chimney was really perfect in Christmas season :)



    ---------------
    Lets Enjoy Philippines

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